The Barcode Blog

A mostly scientific blog about short DNA sequences for species identification and discovery. I encourage your commentary. -- Mark Stoeckle

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More on BARCODEs as BIG DATA: Visualizing evolutionary constraint (II)

Last week’s post looked at amino acid variation among avian BARCODEs (11,000 sequences, 2,700 bird species). The findings were that common variants (present in >0.1% of sequences) are few and restricted in terms of types of amino acid substitutions, while rare variants (present in <0.1% of sequences) are many and diverse, the latter consistent with our published observation (PLoS ONE 2012 e:43992) that most rare variants in this dataset are sequencing errors.

Here I follow-up on this observation to look more closely at the same dataset, this time asking what is the relationship between variant frequency and number? For this analysis I separated probable biological rare variants (found in 2 or more individuals of a species) from those that were likely sequencing errors or contained in pseudogenes (more details in PLoS ONE paper).

As shown in figure below, this analysis gave what looks like a surprisingly simple relationship between variant number and frequency, which presumably reflects some evolutionary principle assuming it is not an accidental feature of this particular dataset. It may be of interest to analyze amino acid variant frequency and number among BARCODE datasets from other taxonomic groups.

A larger version of this figure is available here.


This entry was posted on Monday, November 26th, 2012 at 1:38 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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About this site

This web site is an outgrowth of the Taxonomy, DNA, and Barcode of Life meeting held at Banbury Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, September 9-12, 2003. It is designed and managed by Mark Stoeckle, Perrin Meyer, and Jason Yung at the Program for the Human Environment (PHE) at The Rockefeller University.

About the Program for the Human Environment

The involvement of the Program for the Human Environment in DNA barcoding dates to Jesse Ausubel's attendance in February 2002 at a conference in Nova Scotia organized by the Canadian Center for Marine Biodiversity. At the conference, Paul Hebert presented for the first time his concept of large-scale DNA barcoding for species identification. Impressed by the potential for this technology to address difficult challenges in the Census of Marine Life, Jesse agreed with Paul on encouraging a conference to explore the contribution taxonomy and DNA could make to the Census as well as other large-scale terrestrial efforts. In his capacity as a Program Director of the Sloan Foundation, Jesse turned to the Banbury Conference Center of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, whose leader Jan Witkowski prepared a strong proposal to explore both the scientific reliability of barcoding and the processes that might bring it to broad application. Concurrently, PHE researcher Mark Stoeckle began to work with the Hebert lab on analytic studies of barcoding in birds. Our involvement in barcoding now takes 3 forms: assisting the organizational development of the Consortium for the Barcode of Life and the Barcode of Life Initiative; contributing to the scientific development of the field, especially by studies in birds, and contributing to public understanding of the science and technology of barcoding and its applications through improved visualization techniques and preparation of brochures and other broadly accessible means, including this website. While the Sloan Foundation continues to support CBOL through a grant to the Smithsonian Institution, it does not provide financial support for barcoding research itself or support to the PHE for its research in this field.