Bioinformatics: New type of bacteria found in the human gut

07 11 2013

With software techniques, molecular biologists and computer scientists show that around half of the bacteria species in the human gut are yet unknown.

With the help of the latest software techniques, a team of molecular biologists and computer scientists was now able to show that around half of the bacteria species in the human gut are yet unknown. In the science magazine Nature Methods, they explain how researchers under the direction of Peer Bork, European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), analyzed the genetic information of around 250 stool samples. The enormous amounts of genetic fragments that had been found were digitalized, organized by computer, and assigned to the genomes of about one thousand species. “Our new method allows us to finally identify previously unknown species on the basis of a phylogenetic tree,” says Alexandros Stamatakis, leader of the research group ‘Scientific Computing’ at the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS), who is also a professor for High Performance Computing in Life Sciences at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). His research focus is on developing software and methods for the molecular data analysis in evolutionary biology. In previous works, Stamatakis was already able to reconstruct the biggest phylogenetic tree for plants to date with the help of supercomputers. At the moment he is working on reconstructing phylogenetic trees for insects and birds.

Article in Nature Methods (published online Oct 20, 2013): doi:10.1038/nmeth.2693

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Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS)
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About HITS

The Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) was established in 2010 by the physicist and SAP co-founder Klaus Tschira (1940-2015) and the Klaus Tschira Foundation as a private, non-profit research institute. HITS conducts basic research in the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science, with a focus on the processing, structuring, and analyzing of large amounts of complex data and the development of computational methods and software. The research fields range from molecular biology to astrophysics. The shareholders of HITS are the HITS-Stiftung, which is a subsidiary of the Klaus Tschira Foundation, Heidelberg University and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). HITS also cooperates with other universities and research institutes and with industrial partners. The base funding of HITS is provided by the HITS Stiftung with funds received from the Klaus Tschira Foundation. The primary external funding agencies are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the German Research Foundation (DFG), and the European Union.

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