Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mapping genomics of complex ant system

Emory researchers are tapping the latest-generation DNA sequencing technology to become the first explorers of the genomics of agricultural ant societies.

"This project is one of the first attempts to use genomics to understand a complex interacting system, rather than a single organism," says Nicole Gerardo, assistant professor of biology and lead investigator of the project. "If we can understand how these ants have evolved to process huge amounts of organic material over 50 million years, we might discover more efficient ways to process our own waste materials, produce bio-fuels, or improve our agricultural methods."

"We're entering completely new territory," says James Taylor, assistant professor of biology and math and computer science at Emory, and a co-investigator on the project. "DNA sequencing technology is becoming faster and cheaper, but this transition is just happening. The amount of data that this grant is providing us will likely be easily obtainable within five years, but right now we're among the first to explore co-evolution from a genomics perspective."

Read more.

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