Computational Biology

Computational Biology (CBI) group

In February 2013 Dr. Siegfried Schloissnig joined HITS as leader of the newly established junior research group “Computational Biology” (CBI). The focus of the research group was on strange creatures with stunning characteristics: The group investigated the genome of salamanders and flatworms.

Together with his group, Siegfried Schloissnig developed new approaches to the so-called de novo assembly, which is the reconstruction of genome sequences by means of DNA sequencers and bioinformatic methods. In the course of sequencing by standard methods, DNA is copied multiple times. These copies are randomly split up into numerous small fragments. These fragments are examined for overlaps by means of bioinformatic methods and are subsequently reassembled. The smaller the fragments and the more complex the genome of interest, the more complicated is the problem. The situation becomes even more difficult, when no comparable genome is available and researchers have to assemble the genome de novo, i.e. anew. This is exactly the case with flatworms.

After almost five years of intensive research, Dr. Siegfried Schloissnig and his team – together with colleagues from Dresden and Vienna – managed to decipher the genome of the Mexican salamander Axolotl and the flatworm Schmidtea mediterranea. Both animals are important organisms in regeneration research. The research results have been published in the scientific journal “Nature” and achieved significant response from the media. Schloissnig and his colleagues have been developing an entirely new software program – the genome assembler “MARVEL” – at HITS since 2013. The program can also reconstruct a genome from extremely large amounts of highly repetitive genetic information. In 2018 Schloissnig became head of the IT department of regeneration research at the Institute for Molecular Pathology (IMP) in Vienna.

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