Monday, 29 April 2013

Aspergillus Genome Annotation Completed

Many readers will be aware that we are currently undergoing a huge process that may well end up reading every gene from the DNA of every interesting organism on earth. This is now possible thanks to the advanced and rapid sequencing technology currently available - this has every chance of revolutionising many parts of our lives including medicine.

However reading the DNA is only part of the problem that has to be solved before we can make best use of this technology. The DNA sequences are just anonymous strings of bases until they are assigned a function. Fortunately we know the sequences and function of many thousands of genes so we can compare all new genes to these sequences in the hope of finding a match and therefore finding out what each new gene does - if it has the same sequence as a gene with a known function then the chances are it also has that function. This is a process known as annotation.

Once we can assign a function to most genes we can arrange them in likely metabolic pathways so that we can start to work out how each organism works! It will be some time before we can actually do this but annotation is a big step to the desired end.

This recent publication shows that annotation has been successfully achieved for several of the most important Aspergillus genomes; fumigatus, nidulans, niger and oryzae, and the annotation has largely been validated manually which is still the best guarantor of quality. This represents another large step forward on Aspergillus research, the use of Aspergillus for industrial processes & food, and our understanding of the human health issues associated with this ubiquitous fungus



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