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African Frog Leaps into Sequencing Queue

NEW YORK, Aug. 22 - The frog is hopping onto the whole-genome bandwagon.


The US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute this week announced it will begin a whole genome-shotgun sequence of the Xenopus tropicalis this fall.


The project, slated to wrap up in the fall 2005, is being funded by the DOE and the National Institutes of Health, according to JGI. The JGI declined to predict how much the sequencing will cost.


Scientists use the shy, swift-growing African Xenopus to study cell and organ development, said the JGI. Researchers hope that its compact genome, similar to humans', will shed light on various human genes.


"Frogs and other amphibians occupy a key evolutionary position between mammals and fish, the organisms whose genomes have been or are currently being sequenced," said Paul Richardson, manager for JGI's sequencing project. 


"Studies on frogs have long been instrumental in understanding such fundamental processes as cell division and how cells in the embryo communicate with one another," Robert Grainger, a Xenopus researcher from the University of Virginia, said in a statement. "Because these are the processes that go awry when birth defects occur or cancer strikes, we must seek a better understanding of them. This genome project will provide a major step in that direction."

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