Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

At ASM Award Talk, TIGR s Fraser Focuses on Metagenomics, Comparing Microbes

ATLANTA, June 8 (GenomeWeb Daily News) - TIGR President Claire Fraser hammered home the promise of what she considers a new frontier in science --- metagenomics --- during her hour-long talk Monday at the 105th annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

 

She pointed to scientific efforts such as Craig Venter's research into the organisms inhabiting the Sargasso Sea as examples of not only how potentially important this kind of work could be, but also how it may help change genomic research. "We've convinced ourselves now that we have the tools" to study whole communities of organisms without having to first culture them in a lab, she said.

 

Her group at TIGR is looking at a different type of environment --- the human gastrointestinal microbiome --- in the same type of metagenomic study. She said very preliminary data suggest that these environments vary significantly from one person to another; in a comparison of two donors, Fraser showed, scientists found more genes unique to each donor than genes that were the same in both donors.

 

Fraser's talk, which focused heavily on progress in comparative and microbial genomics in the 10 years since the Haemophilus influenzae genome sequence was published, was part of a presentation of the Promega Biotechnology Research Award recognizing Fraser for her contribution to science.

 

Before launching into her own talk, Fraser noted that she was "accepting this award ... on behalf of a very large number of colleagues" from TIGR. She also gave credit to Venter and Ham Smith for their early nnovations in the genomics field, adding that "the rest of us just happened to be in the right place at the right time."

 

Fraser told a packed room that as microbial genomics has ramped up over the years, the old mentality of sequencing just one member of each species has fallen by the wayside as people learn the importance of sequencing multiple isolates for comparative purposes. "We're going to continue to see enthusiasm for generating this kind of data [especially] as the cost of genome sequencing comes down," she predicted.

 

Recent work on Streptococcus by her team suggests that as more and more strains are added to the comparison, significant numbers of novel genes are found with each iteration. In trying to figure out how many isolates are needed to represent all of the genes, Fraser said about Streptococcus in particular and organisms in general, "perhaps it's not quite so finite as we thought it might be."

Meredith Salisbury is editor of Genome Technology, a GenomeWeb News sister publication.

The Scan

Genome Sequences Reveal Range Mutations in Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Researchers in Nature Genetics detect somatic mutation variation across iPSCs generated from blood or skin fibroblast cell sources, along with selection for BCOR gene mutations.

Researchers Reprogram Plant Roots With Synthetic Genetic Circuit Strategy

Root gene expression was altered with the help of genetic circuits built around a series of synthetic transcriptional regulators in the Nicotiana benthamiana plant in a Science paper.

Infectious Disease Tracking Study Compares Genome Sequencing Approaches

Researchers in BMC Genomics see advantages for capture-based Illumina sequencing and amplicon-based sequencing on the Nanopore instrument, depending on the situation or samples available.

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.