That’s right, while you’re slaving away in your sterile lab, GTO is suffering through cloudless San Diego skies and a 44-acre resort setting to bring you a live report from the Genomes, Medicine, and the Environment meeting. (GTO is relatively certain that Paradise Point, this hyper-landscaped resort located on a small island, is actually the site of Dick Cheney’s undisclosed bunker. Now we understand why he wouldn’t emerge.)
While there have been several interesting talks so far, our favorite was from Jonathan Eisen, who spoke about the Genomic Encyclopedia of Bacteria and Archaea, a project he’s spearheading to help rectify the under-representation of genomes from a number of phyla in the microbial tree of life. “If we look at the tree of life,” he told the audience, “the tree is not happy.” (The secret to being GTO’s favorite? Drawing frowny faces over your data slides.) Eisen called for better guidance of genome projects to increase diversification of phyla that have at least one organism’s genome sequenced. He’s working with the Joint Genome Institute on the project, which aims to add 100 microbial genomes from key phyla in its first year. Eisen also said a major goal is to get more community involvement in helping decide how much representation is necessary for each phylum.
And here’s a shout out to Joe DeRisi, who gave a talk about hunting viruses during the infectious disease panel Tuesday afternoon. His descriptions of viruses that mutate so rapidly they can’t be identified by standard PCR tests in hospitals has GTO wondering what strange new bug we’re going to pick up on the flight home. Thanks for that, Joe.