University of Florida researchers have become the first scientists to analyze the genetic sequence of fragile marine organisms at sea in real time, the institute of higher learning said Tuesday.
Up to now, analyzing the genetic sequence of thousands of marine species has been impossible "because their fragile genetic material could not be stored or shipped reliably," UF said in a communique.
But thanks to the use of a fully equipped genomic laboratory and the university's powerful HiPefGator computer, the doors have been opened not only to this discovery but to an entire ocean of new possibilities.
This achievement signifies an important scientific breakthrough, taking into account that "about 50 percent of drugs today are derived from natural products. The globe is 70 percent ocean, and scientists estimate 14 million to 20 million compounds remain to be discovered at sea," UF said in a communique.
"It is possible now to get the genomic blueprint of all animals in the sea. And this is not science fiction," said Leonid Moroz, a professor of neuroscience, genetics, chemistry and biology at UF.
The real success of this project lies in the fact that "we now know we can do high-throughput sequencing at any location on Earth," Moroz said, while praising the "collaboration and synergy" established between public and private institutions to develop the project.
But the scientist warned that "the planet loses a species every six hours."
"We need to deploy a sequencing fleet," since there are "there are potentially unique solutions in nature for medicine, but they are disappearing," Moroz said. EFE