A novel supercomputing resource created by researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, is allowing scientists to study evolutionary relationships among large populations of living things in significantly shorter times and without having to understand how to operate large, complex computer systems.
The new resource, called the CIPRES (Cyberinfrastructure for Phylogenetic RESearch) Gateway, is an Internet portal that allows scientists anywhere in the world to upload their data via a standard Web browser and perform phylogenetic analyses. The most time-consuming analyses use supercomputers, such as SDSC's new Trestles system, that are part of the National Science Foundation's TeraGrid, the world's most powerful collection of high-performance computing resources dedicated to academic research.
"In addition to answering the age-old questions of how all living things are related to each other, understanding evolutionary relationships has some very important practical benefits," said Mark Miller, principal investigator in SDSC's Research, Education and Development group, and leader of the CIPRES Gateway project. "For example, knowing the evolutionary relationships among a group of viruses or bacteria can help doctors understand where an infection came from, effectively treat patients who are infected, and work to contain the spread of disease during an outbreak."
Moreover, understanding how individual species adapt for survival in a specific geographic location can help scientists manage a species for long-term survival in that location, or engineer crops for higher productivity in a particular location.
Evolutionary relationships are uncovered by comparing DNA sequences from individuals under study. Just as a single DNA sequence can be used to identify a criminal with a very high degree of accuracy, a group of DNA sequences can be used to determine just how closely related any
|Contact: Jan Zverina|
University of California - San Diego