All creatures great and small, and furry and cold-blooded and fungal…

Haley Bridger, January 14th, 2011 | Filed under
  • Rust fungus, such as the one pictured here, will be among the many
    creatures discussed at this year's Plant and Animal Genome Conference

This weekend, several Broad researchers will be in sunny San Diego (those of us in snowy Cambridge are a bit jealous…) presenting at the annual Plant and Animal Genome Conference. I caught up with a few researchers before they left to find out more about what they’ll be presenting.

Christina Cuomo, group leader of the Fungal Genome Initiative at the Broad, will be speaking at the Fungal Genome Workshop on Monday night about her research on rust fungi, which can wreak havoc on crop plants. Rust fungi extract nutrients from living plant tissue and cannot grow apart from their hosts. Christina and her colleagues are sequencing and comparing the genomes of the fungus that causes poplar leaf rust and the fungus that causes wheat and barley stem rust to find out how the fungi evade plants’ defenses and the species have evolved to infect plants.

Elinor Karlsson, a researcher in the Medical and Population Genetics Program, is co-chairing the cat and dog workshop on Sunday, and talking about an important tool (the high density SNP array) that has enabled complex trait mapping in dogs. “This work reflects our collaboration and interactions with the human complex disease mapping community here at the Broad, which is at the forefront of the field of complex trait genetics,” said Elinor. It will be a busy week for Elinor who will be presenting her scientific research on Sunday in California and her on artwork on Friday in a solo exhibit at the Harvard Neighbors Art Gallery in Cambridge, MA.

Federica Di Palma, group leader of the Vertebrate Genome Biology team, will be giving two talks at the conference about sequencing “all creatures great and small” at the Broad including non-traditional model organisms. Her colleague, Jeremy Johnson, will also be at the conference, presenting a poster on the group’s work. Federica plans to talk about mammals, the green anole lizard (the first reptile ever to have its genome sequenced), sticklebacks (fish that inhabit fresh water or salt water – some species lack scales while others have bony, armor plates), and cichlids, colorful fish that live in the great African lakes.