New technique improves animal genome assembly
Sequencing an animal genome is becoming easier and cheaper every day. However, mapping the sequence data into complete chromosomes is a far more tricky, expensive process. Now a newly published method for genome assembly and mapping could provide a much-needed boost for research into animal genomes.
Developed in the UK by the Royal Veterinary College and Kent University Comparative Genomics teams, the new technique uses universal probes to anchor scaffolds to chromosomes physically. While probes are nothing new in genome mapping, this study is the first to make a complete panel of probes for bird genomes. Once DNA has been extracted from ~250 probes, these can be used as universal probes, and it is possible to apply them to any avian genome equally successfully.
The team were able to map and assemble complete genomes for pigeons and the peregrine falcon, almost doubling the number of avian genomes that have so far been assembled to complete chromosome level.
Birds took the centre stage in this research because their genome sequences are both smaller, and more highly conserved across species than those of mammals. But with birds successfully mapped, the team at RVC intend to focus on mammalian genomes.