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DOE's Joint Genome Institute Selects 2015 Community Science Sequencing Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute has selected 32 new research projects to receive sequencing and other services in 2015 through its Community Science Program. These wide-ranging studies involve multiple approaches to topics that are relevant to DOE's mission, such as global carbon cycling, alternative energy production, and biogeochemistry, JGI said this week.

Raw sequence data from CSP-supported studies is released to the National Center for Biotechnology Information periodically during the projects, and when they are complete JGI makes the assemblies, gene annotations, and analyses available to the research community at large.

"These projects catalyze JGI's strategic shift in emphasis from solving an organism's genome sequence to enabling an understanding of what this information enables organisms to do," DOE JGI Science Deputy Jim Bristow, who oversees the CSP, said in a statement.

"To accomplish this, the projects selected combine DNA sequencing with large-scale experimental and computational capabilities, and in some cases include JGI's new capability to write DNA in addition to reading it. These projects will expand research communities, and help to meet the DOE JGI imperative to translate sequence to function and ultimately into solutions for major energy and environmental problems," Bristow said.

JGI said it expects the CSP 2015 project portfolio to exceed 60 trillion bases, or the equivalent of 20,000 human genomes of plant, fungal, and microbial genome sequences.

The CSP 2015 projects involve a wide array of research subjects and approaches. For example, Regina Lamendella at Juniata College will study how microbial communities in the Marcellus shale, the nation's largest shale gas field, respond to hydraulic fracturing and natural gas extraction.

University of California, Berkeley investigator Jill Banfield will pursue two CSP-supported studies, including profiling the diversity of microbial communities that are found in the subsurface of an aquifer and are known repositories of organic carbon and greenhouse gases; and an effort to characterize microbial interactions in tree roots that influence carbon fixation.

Several studies will focus on fungi, including a Stanford University project that will examine how fungal communities in animal feces decompose organic matter with the aim of developing a model system that emulates the ecosystem at Point Reyes National Seashore.

Another fungal project based at the University of Michigan will explore the "dark matter fungi" that are not represented in culture collections. The team plans to sequence several dozen species of unculturable zoosporic fungi from freshwater, soils, and animal feces, and hopes to develop a kingdom-wide fungal phylogenetic framework, JGI said.

The full list of 2015 CSP projects is available here.