Date: Friday, October 4, 2019

Time: 3:00 PM

Place: Ingrid Daubechies Auditorium, 162 Fifth Ave, 2nd floor

Speaker: Rich Bonneau, Group Leader, Systems Biology, CCB

Title: Exploring the Vastness of Biodiversity: from Atoms to Ecosystems

Abstract: New methods for sequencing genes from ecosystems have revealed a vast new biodiversity for biologists to explore. These ecosystems include the ecosystems inside your gut and on your skin, soils, subways, and deep sub surfaces and ocean waters. Most of the world's biodiversity is hidden away in the genomes of microbes and recent large scale experimental efforts have resulted in greater than 100,000 microbial genomes. This vast sequence database is the result of huge international efforts to interrogate the current memory state of longest running program on the planet (Life). Most of the genes in these genomes remain unannotated (biological dark matter). We will look at a few examples of how we can use computational methods to mine this diversity to discover new enzymes, learn about the origins of life, and solve health related puzzles. I'll describe examples of using enzymes found in this vast biodiversity to break down toxic waste. I'll also describe recent efforts to annotate this set of genes (including our recent collaboration, The Microbiome Immunity Project).