A Power Outage Can’t Hold Us Back

It was a challenge to work during the power outage at JMM. But, we were determined to design our primers for the giant beaver ancient DNA. Heather, Rachel and I spent a day at Roscoe’s trying to get our primers right. And after a lot of switching between software and manipulation, we finally found a good group of primers. We were really excited when we ordered those.

Due to the lack of electricity, we had to move our attention to the phylogeny of booted eagle. As mentioned in the previous blog post by my colleague, Rachel, booted eagles are beautiful birds that have feathers on their legs.  We worked on making sense of the large chunks of genetic data we had downloaded. We used mitochondrial and nuclear genes to form phylogenetic relationships between 41 species of eagles.  In retrospect, the power outage made us channel all our energy to this project, and we got tremendous amount of genomic data analysis done! Now we are going to present a poster at the American Ornithologists’ Union/Cooper  Ornithological Society’s meeting taking place at the Field Museum in August 2013!

One of the major challenges we faced while analyzing this data was the lack of standardization of eagle species names on GenBank, an open access database of annotated and publicly available nucleotide sequences and their protein translations. Moreover, due to the lack of consensus and data in the scientific community, the same eagle species is listed in two or more different ways in some cases. This makes it particularly hard when one starts searching for the right accession numbers for the genetic sequences. This issue calls for more stringent monitoring of nucleotide sequences when they are submitted to GenBank.

Contributed by Sonia Sandeep Kabra

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