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Genome Sequenced, Published via Press Release

Back in the day, you could sequence a genome and get a Nature paper out of it. Pretty soon, the sexiness of genome sequencing wore off, and it took a bit more to get into a vanity journal. You had to sequence something cute and cuddly, something extinct, or a lot of genomes at once. Any other genome sequencing projects were relegated to lower tier journals.

Now, it appears that even sequencing the genome of charismatic megafauna only gets you a press release. As TR Gregory points out, the sequencing of the Kangaroo genome was announced in such a manner (Science by press release). But check out the title on the press release:

Australian First: Kangaroo Genome Mapped

They report that the genome was “mapped”. Not sequenced. This is the incorrect terminology. One the positive side, at least they didn’t say the genome was decoded.

Comments

  1. #1 coturnix
    November 19, 2008

    Did I get it incorrectly? I understood that they a) made a map, and b) intend to sequence the genome over the next year. I.e., they are press releasing two things at the same time: finishing of the map and beginning of the sequencing. Am I totally off base here?

  2. #2 RPM
    November 19, 2008

    You might be correct Bora. The press release so horribly vague that it’s difficult to know. KanGO website doesn’t offer any help either.

  3. #3 Jonathan Badger
    November 19, 2008

    Back in the day, you could sequence a genome and get a Nature paper out of it.

    You mean like last week?

    You had to sequence something cute and cuddly

    Awww, a diatom! Mommy, Mommy, can we keep him? Can we? Can we?

    (yes, I *do* know what you mean, rpm. It’s not so easy anymore to get genomes in Science/Nature — I’m just gloating)

  4. #4 Neil
    November 19, 2008

    May I apologise on behalf of Australian science for the appalling state of both our genomics and our PR. It’s the lack of funding you see; it drives people to make ridiculous claims to get attention.

    This is the second recent case of genomics news so vague that you can’t even tell what was done: mapping, sequencing or both? The other being the giant panda genome about a month ago.

    Lastly, I note that Science Now has used the “d-word” with respect to the mammoth genome.

  5. #5 Ian
    November 20, 2008

    I agree with Coturnix. According to the article at http://www.sciencedaily.com they didn’t sequence the genome yet. What they did was lay out a map for sequencing it.

    They’re using the term “map” in the common-or-garden sense, not in a scientific genomic sense, and since this is a press release and not a science paper, it doesn’t matter. I think TR Gregory et all are going off half-cocked.

    It just goes to show that we need to monitor the accuracy of our own releases just as closely as we do the press releases!

    We also need to keep in mind that the press release is not intended as a science paper, it’s intended as a commication to the public. Short-cuts and talking-down are to be expected until we get the public up to speed on their science education.

    Hopefully the USA has taken the first step on that long road by electing Obama.

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