Proflikesubstance has a very good post about PR announcements in science, which stems from the duplicated sequencing of the cacao and Tasmanian Devil genomes. What struck me is this bit:
What also seems ridiculous to me is that there are TWO groups sequencing either of these genomes. I can understand the race for the human genome and maybe even things like fruit fly and Arabidopsis, but since when did the Tasmanian devil fan club go all cut throat? And I like chocolate as much as the next person, but two genome sequences*? It’s hard to tell whether this is competition or lack of communication, but either way it seems like a giant FAIL to commit the duplicated resources. If it’s the former it’s just stupid and if the latter maybe it’s time to think about a mechanism by which people could list what genomes are being sequenced…
(An aside: NIAID does require confirmation that genomes aren’t being sequenced elsewhere, but I don’t know about other funding agencies).
I can sort of understand why Mars wants to sequence the cacao genome: it appears, in part, to be an attempt to lock down the data (and thanks for collaborating in this USDA!). Sleazy, but understandable.
What I do not get at all is the duplication of efforts on the Tasmanian Devil genome. Look, the whole contagious cancer thing is pretty dreadful–and could be scientifically useful. But do we need two genomes? Especially when it seems these are competitive projects, not coordinated ones (i.e., a Hundred* Tazzy genome project done by multiple groups could be very interesting).
I find it hard to believe that the funders are happy with this. So, does anybody know how this came about? Was the original group not moving fast enough? Did the Sanger group decide to use a different technology platform?
Regardless, I agree with proflikesubstance: there’s too much to be done to waste capacity like this (even if the limited capacity is analytical, not pushing data out of the machines).
*Are there even 1,000 Tasmanian Devils left?