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ABLE’s Debut at the NABT Annual Conference
Informally, members of NABT and ABLE have had long standing connections ranging from shared members to informal collaborations. The formal alliance of ABLE and NABT was initiated in May 2003 when both organizations partnered with the Bioscience Education Network (BEN), an AAAS-coordinated effort funded by NSF. At the annual NABT conference held October 10, 2003 in Portland, Oregon, ABLE’s goal was to reach out to new members and reconnect with people who have participated in ABLE in the past. To that end, ABLE staffed a booth in the Exhibit Hall, sponsored a General Session speaker, and attended the newcomers breakfast, 4-year college section poster session, breakfast, and main banquet. Many thanks to Ann Lumsden for enabling the contacts with NABT and profiling ABLE in such a constructive way.
The booth was centrally located in the main exhibit hall and ably (no pun intended) staffed by Kelly Bohrer, University of Dayton (attended her first ABLE in June at UNLV!); Maggie Haag, University of Alberta, Edmonton; Charlie Drewes, Iowa State University; and Carol Budd, St. Lawrence University. During the exhibit hours, we distributed the new ABLE brochure, promoted the upcoming annual conference at Bowling Green State University (June 8-12, 2003), and promoted the ABLE website and our recent partnership with BEN. Many people with whom we talked told us to keep up the good work and many others were very glad to recognize the value of our resources. We feel that our contacts may generate membership, laboratory initiative grants and major workshop applications.
In addition, ABLE sponsored a General Session speaker, Elaine Ostrander of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, who presented a talk titled “The Canine Genome -- From Whole Genome to Single Nucleotide Polymorphism.” Approximately 150 educators, middle school to 4-year college level, listened as Elaine described a $46 million NIH project designed to answer several questions concerning the development of a high resolution comparative map between the dog and human genomes and the ends to which the comparative map could be used.
The presentation described how the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Celera/TIGR, Whitehead/MIT, the American Kennel Club, and various educational institutions including Cornell, UCLA, and researchers in France and Norway all collaborated to answer questions about dog phylogeny, breed origins and human/dog orthologs. They found that 84% of canine genes are found in the human genome, although the organization of the genomes is different. They selected various breeds to sequence based on the popularity of registered AKC breeds (80% of registered breeds include Labrador and Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds!) and our current understanding of the most genetically distant and progenitor breeds. They utilized the canine sequences to help determine origins of various breeds and attempted to compare inbred breed sequences to wolf samples for conservation biology ends.
All of this information was used to determine ranges of heterozygosity
between breeds and determine percentage of polymorphic sites seen in
other dogs for the ultimate end of choosing ten breeds to determine
linkage disequilibrium. The determination of linkage disequilibrium
(place in the genome where there was a decrease in variability) allowed
them to then perform cluster analysis and determine that you can indeed
assign breed status based on allele frequencies. Finally, the search
within breed genealogies and comparison to LOD scores (measure of recombination
between marker for a particular dog disease and a putative disease locus)
helped diagnose disease within particular breeds. Whew. This whirlwind
tour of the canine genome is only one of several parallel projects currently
underway to do the same analysis on cats, pigs, chickens and cows.
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