DNA Sequencer in Use
the purchase of a new DNA sequencer, NMU biology students are being
trained on the same equipment used at major genome centers and throughout
the biotechnology industry. Alec Lindsay (Biology,
pictured right) is shown explaining the equipment to students
Jonelle Thompson and Andy Moriarty.
is a great advancement,” said Neil Cumberlidge (Biology).
“It gives results in two hours. Students can load samples and at
the end of a three-hour lab they can have data in an electronic
format that can be shared through their laptops. It allows us to
get results faster and with greater accuracy. … We had a very old
sequencer that had been donated to the department, but it was obsolete.
It required 48 hours to set up and run, so we couldn’t use it in
classes or labs. There is only one company that makes DNA sequencers
and it no longer services the older model, so that was an added
incentive to invest in the new version.”
uses the $80,000 apparatus to develop evolutionary trees of Madagascar
crabs – a project he is working
on in collaboration with the Field
is using the sequencer to analyze the effects of inbreeding on loon
populations – work that falls in the disciplines of conservation
genetics or molecular ecology.
are beginning to look at the genome-moderated effects of mercury,
which is another issue impacting loons,” Lindsay said. “It seems
that different individual loons respond differently to mercury exposure,
and this may be genotype-dependent. It could be used to help inform
resource managers about the susceptibility of different loon populations
to mercury contamination.”
is composed of four chemicals bases – abbreviated A, T, C and G
– that are repeated millions or billions of times throughout a genome.
The human genome, which was recently sequenced by the U.S. Department
of Energy Human Genome Program, has 3 billion pairs of bases. According
to the USDOE, mapping
the order of these bases is important because the sequence "underlies
all of life’s diversity, even dictating whether an organism is human
or another species such as yeast, rice, or fruit fly – all of which
have their own genomes. Because all organisms are related through
similarities in DNA sequences, insights gained from non-human genomes
often lead to new knowledge about human biology.”
Sept. 7 Boston Globe article reported that researchers
at the Broad Institute in Cambridge,
unveiled the map of the dog genome this summer. They sequenced the
genes of a female boxer named Tasha. About the same length as the
human genome, the canine's DNA adds to the growing library of organisms
that have been sequenced. The dog is the fourth mammal, preceded
by the human, mouse and rat.
Mapping DNA sequences
was the first challenge. Deriving meaningful knowledge from these
scientific achievements will define biological research through
the coming decades. With a new DNA sequencer, NMU students will
be better prepared for careers in the fast-paced biotechnology industry.