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Sequencing at Sea

By SDSĀ­ News

August 21, 2014

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San Diego State University (SDSU) researchers have been traveling to the Line Islands for the last 10 years, collecting and analyzing the coral habitat to better understand what organisms live there, how they compete for resources, and what impact their presence has on the reef's ecosystem. However, the researchers always had to wait to return home before examining the data, but now they have developed a protocol for how to run a DNA sequencer on a ship.

Using the sea-worthy DNA sequencer, the researchers successfully collected samples, sequenced their DNA, and developed new research questions on the fly. The researchers were able to sequence 26 bacterial genomes, as well as two metagenomes, which take into account all the DNA present in a given region.

In the future, the researchers hope to collect even more data and develop and test more complex hypotheses in the field. "At the end of the day, we were able to come up with the data we needed," says SDSU computer scientist Rob Edwards. "But when we go back next time, we're going to be better prepared."

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