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How Pythons Regenerate Their Organs and Other Secrets of the Snake Genome


A Burmese python superimposed on an analysis of gene expression that uncovers how the species' organs change after feeding.

University of Texas at Arlington researchers are using supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center to study reptile evolution.

Credit: Todd Castoe

Researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) are using supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to study reptile evolution.

The team recently explored Burmese pythons' organ regeneration mechanisms, sequencing the snakes in three different states, identifying 1,700 significant genes, and performing statistical analyses to find primary regeneration drivers.

A similar strategy was applied to compare thousands of genes in two closely related rattlesnake species' nuclear DNA.

The researchers use TACC systems to first generate genome assemblies, and then to compare the outcomes among many different samples, from multiple lineages, to uncover subtle distinctions and patterns that would otherwise be undetectable.

Another approach enables the team to model millions of generations of evolution, using synthetic biological data to infer evolutionary rules and identify genes that could be vital for adaptation.

"TACC machines...allow us to run 500 jobs at the same time, which speeds up the research process," says UTA researcher Daren Card.

From Texas Advanced Computing Center
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