Computers and Coding research stories

Newer Tighter CoGe-MaizeGDB demo

I invested in a new video capture program that lets me record voice overs in real time. There are a few more ums and uhhs but my voice and the action on screen are in much better sync, and I don’t find myself rushing to keep up with the movements of my own mouse or trying to fill apparently dead time while nothing happens on screen. The new video is also two minutes and fifteen seconds shorter, dropping below the psychologically important 5 minute barrier, above which watching a video starts to feel a lot more like work, and I get to show off two new features (visually flagged tandems, and predictions of where a gene would have been before it was lost) that we’re still in the process of rolling out.

Sorry to harp on the same topic a second time, this video is just SO MUCH BETTER than the previous one and I needed to show it off. 😉

biology evolution Genetics research stories

Why to Celebrate the Publication of the Brachypodium Genome

Brachypodium distachyon (photo courtesy of Devin O'Conner)

Sorry this is late going up. -James

This morning Nature officially published the paper* describing the sequence of the Brachypodium distachyon genome. This publication brings the number of grass genomes available for comparative analysis to four. In celebration I’m going to list four reasons to be excited about the publication of this genome.

The location of Brachypodium within the grass family tree.

Brachy (as I will refer to the species from here on) is a member of the Pooideae a sub-family of grasses from which no sequenced grasses have come. For the work we do in my lab this is exciting because it adds more depth to our analysis of changes in the grass genomes. The more distantly related grasses we can compare at the whole genome level, the better we can infer what the ancestral species that gave rise to all the grasses might have been like at a genome level. The most we know, or can make educated guesses about that species, the better position we are in to say what changed along the evolutionary paths leading to grasses like maize, rice, and sorghum. The choice of the Pooideae wasn’t at random, or even because of the sub-family’s distant relationship to other sequenced grasses.

biology Computers and Coding research stories

MaizeGDB and CoGe: A Beautiful Friendship

Editor’s note: I have a new shorter, better, tutorial, here.

One of the earliest fruits of my work to define relationships between syntenic genes* was a list of sorghum genes and corn genes in one or both of the two related regions of the corn genome (each region in sorghum corresponds to two in corn because the ancestors of corn completely doubled their genome in the time after the ancestors of corn and sorghum went their separate ways.)

But this is not the post where I explain my research projects. That post would be confusing and densely written at the best of times, which two AM in the morning certainly isn’t. Tonight my goal is simply to introduce the embedded video below, which explains how any researchers who want to can check out the relationships I’ve identified between genes in the two duplicate regions of maize, and the genes of the sorghum genome can do so using the MaizeGDB genome browser, and CoGe’s own GenomeViewer application. Video below. If you’re going to watch, I recommend selecting the highest resolution youtube offers you.

biology research stories

Figure from my Research Proposal

“My budget…triples the number of National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships.  This program was created as part of the space race five decades ago. In the decades since, it’s remained largely the same size –- even as the numbers of students who seek these fellowships has skyrocketed.  We ought to be supporting these young people who are pursuing scientific careers, not putting obstacles in their path.” – President Obama

I’m still feeling brain dead after the final push for submitting.

Speaking of NSF, here’s the one figure I managed to shoehorn into my research proposal.

Blast hits between an orthologous quartet of gene spaces, one in rice, one in sorghum and the two copies created by the maize tetraploidy.
Blast hits between an orthologous quartet of gene spaces, one in rice, one in sorghum and the two copies created by the maize tetraploidy. As usual click the picture to see it fullsized

If you’d like you can even click here to be able to play around with the figure yourself using the CoGe interface. Now I’ve got to try to explain what this figure is about.