Genetic Archaeology
Recent News |  Archives |  Tags |  About |  Newsletter |  Submit News |  Links |  Subscribe to GeneticArchaeology.com RSS Fee Subscribe


More Articles
Researchers open path to finding rare, polarized metalsResearchers open path to finding rare, polarized metals

Running geese give insight into low oxygen toleranceRunning geese give insight into low oxygen tolerance

Scientists in Singapore develop novel ultra-fast electrical circuits using light-generated tunnelingScientists in Singapore develop novel ultra-fast electrical circuits using light-generated tunneling

The motion of the medium matters for self-assembling particles, research showsThe motion of the medium matters for self-assembling particles, research shows

Researchers determine how mechanical forces affect T-cell recognition and signalingResearchers determine how mechanical forces affect T-cell recognition and signaling

La Brea Tar Pit fossil research shows climate change drove evolution of Ice Age predatorsLa Brea Tar Pit fossil research shows climate change drove evolution of Ice Age predators

The surprising consequences of banning chocolate milkThe surprising consequences of banning chocolate milk

Earthquake simulation tops 1 quadrillion flopsEarthquake simulation tops 1 quadrillion flops

Galactic serial killerGalactic serial killer

Positive, negative thinkers' brains revealedPositive, negative thinkers' brains revealed

Babies prefer fairness -- but only if it benefits them -- in choosing a playmateBabies prefer fairness -- but only if it benefits them -- in choosing a playmate

An ultrathin collagen matrix biomaterial tool for 3D microtissue engineeringAn ultrathin collagen matrix biomaterial tool for 3D microtissue engineering

Friedreich's ataxia -- an effective gene therapy in an animal modelFriedreich's ataxia -- an effective gene therapy in an animal model

A new twist makes for better steel, researchers findA new twist makes for better steel, researchers find

Renewable energy market share climbs despite 2013 dip in investmentsRenewable energy market share climbs despite 2013 dip in investments

Research suggests autumn is ending later in the northern hemisphereResearch suggests autumn is ending later in the northern hemisphere

'Unzipping' poplars' biofuel potential'Unzipping' poplars' biofuel potential

Study finds gaming augments players' social livesStudy finds gaming augments players' social lives

Sniff study suggests humans can distinguish more  than 1 trillion scentsSniff study suggests humans can distinguish more than 1 trillion scents

Off the shelf, on the skin: Stick-on electronic patches for health monitoringOff the shelf, on the skin: Stick-on electronic patches for health monitoring

A breakthrough in creating invisibility cloaks, stealth technologyA breakthrough in creating invisibility cloaks, stealth technology

Overcoming structural uncertainty in computer modelsOvercoming structural uncertainty in computer models

Monkey caloric restriction study shows big benefit; contradicts earlier studyMonkey caloric restriction study shows big benefit; contradicts earlier study

Researchers developed world's first fluorescent sensor to detect date rape drugResearchers developed world's first fluorescent sensor to detect date rape drug

Protein called YAP gives blood vessels strength, shapeProtein called YAP gives blood vessels strength, shape

Copied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithmsCopied from nature: Detecting software errors via genetic algorithms

Turning back the clock on aging muscles?Turning back the clock on aging muscles?

Gecko-inspired adhesion: Self-cleaning and reliableGecko-inspired adhesion: Self-cleaning and reliable

New study finds differences in concussion risk between football helmetsNew study finds differences in concussion risk between football helmets

Researchers aim to assemble the tree of life for all 2 million named species (5/23/2012)

Tags:
tree of life

A new initiative aims to build a grand tree of life that brings together everything scientists know about how all living things are related, from the tiniest bacteria to the tallest tree.

Scientists have been building evolutionary trees for more than 150 years, ever since Charles Darwin drew the first sketches in his notebook. But despite significant progress in fleshing out the major branches of the tree of life, today there is still no central place where researchers can go to browse and download the entire tree.

"Where can you go to see their collective results in one resource? The surprising thing is you can't - at least not yet," said Dr. Karen Cranston of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center.

But now, thanks to a three-year, $5.76 million grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation, a team of scientists and developers from ten universities aims to make that a reality.

Figuring out how the millions of species on Earth are related to one another isn't just important for pinpointing an aardvark's closest cousins, or determining if hagfish are more closely related to sand dollars or sea squirts. Information about evolutionary relationships has helped scientists identify promising new medicines, develop hardier, higher-yielding crops, and fight infectious diseases such as HIV, anthrax and influenza.

If evolutionary trees are so widely used, why has assembling them across all of life been so hard to achieve? It's not for lack of research, or data. Thanks in large part to advances in DNA sequencing, thousands of new phylogenetic trees are published in scientific journals each year -most of them focused on isolated branches of the tree of life, for everything from birds to botflies.

"There's a firehose of data," said Cranston, principal investigator of the project. "[Over the years] scientists have published tens of thousands of evolutionary trees, but there's been very little work to connect the dots and put them all together into a single resource."

Part of the difficulty lies in the sheer enormity of the task. The largest evolutionary trees built to-date contain roughly 100,000 taxa. Assembling the branches for all two million named species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes - not to mention the countless more still being named or discovered - will require new tools for analyzing large data sets and stitching together vast numbers of published trees.

Another difficulty lies in how scientists typically disseminate their results. A tiny fraction of all evolutionary trees that have been published - researchers estimate a mere 4% -end up in a database in a digital form. Instead, most of that knowledge is locked up in figures in journal articles, as PDFs or other file formats that are impossible for other researchers to download, reanalyze, or merge with new information.

This new initiative - dubbed Open Tree of Life - aims to change all that.

What makes this project different from previous efforts, the researchers say, is its scope. "This is the first real attempt to put together the entire tree of life," Cranston said.

The team hopes to have a first draft of the complete evolutionary tree - compiled from the evolutionary trees that are already available in existing databases - by August 2013. The first draft that emerges will be far from finished. "There will always be new studies that come out," Cranston said. "There will also be places in the tree where we don't have enough data, or where the data lead to conflicting hypotheses, or where groups of researchers simply disagree."

But with a first draft in hand, scientists will be able to go online and compare their trees to others that have already been published, or download it for further study. They'll also be able to expand the tree, filling in the missing branches and placing newly named or discovered species among their relatives. Eventually, the team's goal is to be able to detect when new trees are published and incorporate them automatically, so that the complete tree can be continuously updated.

If the project is to succeed, one of the biggest challenges will be encouraging more scientists to publish their results in digital form. Growing numbers of scientific journals now require authors to deposit phylogenetic data in a digital database, but many published trees never make it. "We hope to provide infrastructure and tools that will make it easier to do that, such as a more user-friendly interface for submitting data," Cranston said.

"In the long run, we hope this will become the central resource for synthesized phylogenetic data," she added.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent)

Post Comments:

Search

New Articles
Study finds new links between number of duplicated genes and adaptation

Does germ plasm accelerate evolution?

Faithful allies since the CretaceousFaithful allies since the Cretaceous

Ferns borrowed genes to flourish in low lightFerns borrowed genes to flourish in low light

Study tests theory that life originated at deep sea ventsStudy tests theory that life originated at deep sea vents

Scientists firm up origin of cold-adapted yeasts that make cold beerScientists firm up origin of cold-adapted yeasts that make cold beer

Lactase persistence alleles reveal ancestry of southern African Khoe pastoralists

Examination of a cave-dwelling fish finds a possible genetic link to human disordersExamination of a cave-dwelling fish finds a possible genetic link to human disorders

New research initiative investigates gene regulation in evolution and development

The Neanderthal in usThe Neanderthal in us

The human 'hairless' gene identified: One form of baldness explained

Going batty for jumping DNA as a cause of species diversity

Ancient whodunit may be solved: The microbes did it!

Female fly genomes also populated with de novo genes derived from ancestral sequences

Computing with slime



Archives
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
June 2005
October 2004
July 2001


Science Friends
Agricultural Science
Astronomy News
Biology News
Biomimicry Science
Cognitive Research
Chemistry News
Tissue Engineering
Cancer Research
Cybernetics Research
Electonics Research
Forensics Report
Fossil News
Genetics News
Geology News
Microbiology Research
Nanotech News
Parenting News
Physics News


  Archives |  Submit News |  Advertise With Us |  Contact Us |  Links
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. All contents © 2000 - 2015 Web Doodle, LLC. All rights reserved.