Belated Answer to the Monday Night Mystery

Is it Thursday already? And I’ve not answered the Mystery of the Alphabet Soup?

Crud. I am sooooo far behind this week.

This mystery was designed to test how well you really know BLAST search. The correct answer could not be gotten through a regular BLAST of NCBI’s nucleotide collection. Rather, you had to try different options. The target sequence was stored in the transcriptome assembly database.

The source was the apple maggot Rhagoletis pomonella, and the researchers were looking for genes that might be involved in ongoing speciation.

Apples are introduced to North America (remember Johnny Appleseed?). Rhagoletis pomonella is a native hawthorne-eating fly that quickly jumped to the new host. The subsequent genetic differentiation between the new apple flies and the old hawthorn flies has become a classic case study of evolution in the present- and hence of interest to biologists interested in the processes by which novel species arise.

Ten points go to Mike Henshaw, with an additional point to Mark Fisher (for a detailed discussion of why this locus in particular is of interest), and one each to MrILoveTheAnts, Michael Suttkus, and Robert S-R for their sense of humor.

7 thoughts on “Belated Answer to the Monday Night Mystery”

      1. Did you ever play SimAnt? It was one of my favorite games for a long time, and has a huge nostalgia factor for me. Probably the whole reason I love ants today is from playing that game.

  1. By saying insect “DNA” you are inferring genomic sequence, hence a BLASTn search. If you wanted transcriptomic (mRNA/cDNA) you should not have stated insect “DNA sequence”. This is both misleading and biologically false. An RNA (cDNA) sequence has little similarity to the genomic (DNA) sequence due to constitutive and alternative splicing of exons and mature transcripts.

      1. Yes !

        Nits make lice.

        This reinforces our discussion of the difficulties of scientific language in a vernacular melieu. I just love the phrase “alternative splicing of exons and mature transcripts.” What a great pick-up line !

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