Eddy Rubin (left) along with Dario Boffelli led the development of a technique called phylogenetic shadowing which enables scientists to make meaningful comparisons between the genomes of humans and other primates.
In these comparative genomic charts, it is easy to see why meaningful comparisons between humans and other primates have been difficult. The pink areas represent regions of high conservation between the two species being compared, (meaning the sequences are the same in both), the blue areas represent the positions of protein-coding regions and the purple areas represent the non-protein coding parts of a gene.
Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a powerful new technique for deciphering biological information encoded in the human genome. Called "phylogenetic shadowing," this technique enables scientists to make meaningful comparisons between DNA sequences in the human genome and sequences in the genomes of apes, monkeys, and other non-human primates. With phylogenetic shadowing, scientists can now study biological traits that are unique to members of the primate family.
"Now that the sequence of the human genome has almost been completed the next challenge will be the development of a vocabulary to read and interpret that sequence," says Edward Rubin, M.D., director of the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) for the U.S. Department of Energy, and Berkeley Lab’s Genomics Division, who led the development of the phylogenetic shadowing technique.
"The ability to compare DNA sequences in the human genome to sequences in non-human primates will enable us in some ways to better understand ourselves than the study of evolutionarily far-distant relatives such as the mouse or the rat," Rubin adds. "This is important because as valuable as models like the mouse have been, there are many physical and biochemical attributes of humans that only other primates share."
Lynn Yarris | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National L
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