Hi-C: Quick genome sequencing cracked Zika mosquito genome, more advances likely


Ten 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…But [now], 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….

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.

But Erich Jarvis from Rockefeller University, who is leading one of these dauntingly ambitious projects, says the future lies in pairing Hi-C with new sequencing technologies that can read longer stretches of DNA. That would provide higher-quality pieces for Hi-C to then stitch together.

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