“Hi-C”: The Game-Changing Technique That Cracked the Zika-Mosquito Genome

Ed Yong in The Atlantic:

Lead_960Ten years ago, a team of scientists published the first genome of Aedes aegypti­—the infamous mosquito that spreads Zika, dengue fever, and yellow fever. It was a valiant effort, but also a complete mess. Rather than tidily bundled in the insect’s three pairs of chromosomes, its DNA was scattered among 36,000 small fragments, many of which were riddled with gaps and errors. But last week, a team of scientists led by Erez Lieberman Aiden at the Baylor College of Medicine announced that they had finally knitted those pieces into a coherent whole—a victory that will undoubtedly be helpful to scientists who study Aedes and the diseases it carries.

This milestone is about more than mosquitoes. The team succeeded by using a technique called Hi-C, which allows scientists to assemble an organism’s genome quickly, cheaply, and accurately. To prove that point, the team used Hi-C to piece together a human genome from scratch for just $10,000; by contrast, the original Human Genome Project took $4 billion to accomplish the same feat. “It’s very clear that this is the way that you want to be doing it,” says Olga Dudchenko, who was part of Aiden’s team. “At least in the foreseeable future, there’s no method that can compete,” adds her colleague Sanjit Singh Batra.

More here.

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