The Bioinformatics Unit at Moredun is a specialised facility that deals with computational aspects of animal disease research. The Unit interacts closely with scientists across a range of research projects in a number of ways:
- We use high parallel DNA sequencing to determine the entire DNA content of a viral or bacterial genome. From information encoded in this sequence it is possible to deduce what proteins this organism expresses and how this expression is regulated by interactions with their environment.
- We are able to compare DNA and protein sequences between organisms with different growth characteristics in order to identify candidate proteins for making vaccines or for differential diagnostic tests.
- Detailed comparison of DNA and protein sequence (in conjunction with colleagues at BioSS) across a range of similar organisms allows us to infer how they are related and for example, how important traits such as pathogenicity have arisen and spread within populations of bacteria.
- Identification and quantification of biological macromolecules and ligands provide a great deal of information about an organism's molecular makeup. We work closely with colleagues to interpret information generated by transcriptional analysis of an organism or from Moredun’s quantitative mass spectrometry facilities.
- We have also done some work in the productive area of metagenomics in which it is possible to characterise an animal’s ‘normal ’ microbial flora of gut, lung etc. and then compare this to situations where it is changed by disease, antimicrobials, immune compromise, stress and a host of external factors.
- Typically genomic and proteomic datasets are large and complex and contain vast amounts of cryptic information. It is important that this information is presented in a comprehensible format and we have developed software tools such as GeneRator for comparing coding sequences between multiple genomes and SospaRator a web based tool for filtering and removing redundancy from mass spectrometry data.
- We routinely use relational databases as a means of storing and interrogating genomic data, this has been extended to developing databases for management and analysis of disease trends in accumulated diagnostic virology and pathology data.
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