Discovering DNA

DNA Day | Hindawi Blog

DNA Day marks the anniversary of DNA’s double helix being discovered in 1953, and also that of the Human Genome Project completion in April 2003.

The day was initially organized by the National Human Genome Research Institute, later becoming a US national holiday. Today, @DNADay is celebrated internationally by students, academics and the general public; it’s a great opportunity to be part of a worldwide discussion about the hottest topics in genetics and genomics (just follow #DNADay17).

With the massive wealth of information out there it’s impossible to sift through thousands of genomics publications and news sites to keep up with the field. While citations are probably the most well-known measure of ‘impact’, these may not always be the best guide when trying to identify the hottest new research. For instance, occasionally topics of broad general interest may not be considered as ‘citable’ in the scientific literature.

Thankfully, to address this issue there are metrics in place that can highlight what people are talking about. Altmetric tracks online mentions and conversations about scientific articles. Sources used to gather these data include social media, blogs, reference managers, public policy documents, mainstream media and other platforms.

At Hindawi we use Altmetric to be part of the conversations about our content. To mark DNA Day, I’ve shared three articles from International Journal of Genomics that readers have engaged most with online.

Supporting Conservation Programs Using Genomics

Our most talked-about article looks at conservation of the endangered Visayan warty pig from the Philippines. The study authors observed that conservation programs made the assumption that breeding separate captive populations together would increase genetic diversity, particularly since they were from different Philippine islands. However, upon performing genomic analysis they showed evidence of a recent split in the populations. Recent and current inbreeding has led to a low level of nucleotide diversity that threatens the success of the captive populations. The researchers demonstrate this species as a case study of how genomics can be used to guide actions in conservation programs.

This article was shared via a news platform, blogs and social media, and read through Mendeley.


Bioinformatics Used to Improve Genome Assembly

Our second-most discussed article addresses problems imposed by sequencing long reads in de novo genome assembly, including memory and run-time constraints. The researchers introduce three data structures to the current gold-standard paradigm for reconstructing genomes.

The improved data structure was shown to provide increased sequence specificity with increased gap length. The researchers propose this will have applications in genome, transcriptome and metagenome assemblies, and read error correction.

This article was shared via blogs and social media, and read through Mendeley and CiteULike.


The Animal Microbiome and Conservation Biology

Conservation biology comes up as a popular topic among our readers, being the subject of the third-most mentioned article. The microbiome has remained one of the hottest topics in genomics in recent years. While the field is very fast moving, this 2016 review gives interesting insights into how microbiome research is shedding light on information that may impact species conservation.

There is a particular focus on insect species, suggesting their microbiomes are highly dependent on the environment, species and populations, and affect the fitness of species. These results are important for our understanding of nonnative species invasions, responses to pathogens, and responses to chemicals and global climate change.

This article was shared via blogs and social media, and read through Mendeley.

The text and illustration in this blog post are by Hindawi and are distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY). Screenshots taken from