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Tanja Woyke: Single-Cell Genomics

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Recommended by: Eddy Rubin, Joint Genome Institute

What inspired Tanja Woyke to pursue her current area of focus is also what makes it possible: single-cell genomic technology. "It allows one to sequence the genome of one individual microbial cell by amplifying its genome a billion-fold using a process called multiple displacement amplification," she says. "I find this quite fascinating. Such an approach was unthinkable 10 years ago."

The Woyke lab at the US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute is currently focused on gaining genomic insights into highly novel and under-explored taxa in the environment, most of which are as yet uncultured. Her main project targets genomes from lineages with or without very few cultured or sequenced representatives to gain insight into their evolutionary relationships.

Publication of note

In May, Woyke and her colleagues published "Decontamination of MDA reagents for single cell whole genome amplification," in PLoS One. The paper describes a method for removing exogenous DNA from whole-genome amplification reagents during single-cell sequencing. They found that UV irradiation of multiple displacement amplification reagents effectively eliminates the amplification of contaminating DNA.

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