The Genome of Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull's genome is to be sequenced.

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One has to really wonder

One has to really wonder about the merits and logic of sequencing the genomes of long dead celebrities at this time. Even with thousand dollar whole genome sequencing rapidly becoming available, it's hard to see the real value of such an exercise with the limited understanding that we presently hold about what the individual variations in DNA sequence data really mean.

Not that long ago, government- and charity-funded agencies expended tens to hundreds of million dollars per organism to sequence some of the first genomes from eukaryotes. Interestingly, despite the public investment, some of these genomes are still not fully sequenced or accessible. Had granting agencies focused their resources on better analysis of the gene products of the early genomes rather than supporting an ongoing gene sequencing frenzy, we would probably have a much better understanding of the human genome and proteome today. Moreover, all of those other genomes could have still be sequenced at a later date at a fraction of the price.

I am now reading about projects involving the sequencing of hundreds of thousands of genomes. At $1000 per genome, that's hundreds of millions of dollars. We should step back and reconsider whether we are spending limited research resources in the most prudent manner at a time when the global economy is suffering and together with environmental disaster will severely adversely affect human health.

While I agree with S.

While I agree with S. Pelech's comments that research funds need to be focused on "practical" research, I do think that there is some PR merit to these type of eye candy projects. Won't they help increase public awareness of the sequencing field? See more of my response on The American Biotechnologist Blog

That part of the public that

That part of the public that would know about sequencing already know but the rest are a little confused. Eye candy projects like this add to the gee whiz factor so may appear on the news but add nothing to the increased knowledge of sequencing of the general public. When more practical knowledge is obtained, greater numbers of cures for cancer or a cell phone widget that provides you with your sequence and accurately calculates your risk for a metabolic disorder, then we can expect the public to become more interested. The low numbers of the public that watch any documentary gives you an idea of the likely penetration of these ideas. I can't see the value of knowing Sitting Bull's sequence, except what it may tell us, as a single data point, about the genetic makeup of the Native American gene pool in the 19th century.

~ Very soon, every living


Very soon, every living plant and creature's DNA will be sequenced and on file.

And then disease and death will be diminished to virtually nothing.

Even better news is that all Luddites will be placed in zoos for us all to laugh at.


While I can agree with

While I can agree with Pelech's comment in general, in this case Sitting Bull is more than just a celebrity. His genome is that of a native American with no admixtures from the European population and thus could shed light on human evolution, and also on the genetic architecture of distinctive traits in the native American population.