Genetics

Better Annotation Needed

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Science  05 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6043, pp. 677
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6043.677-b

In genomic studies, annotation of previously sequenced organisms provides an important starting reference point. These annotated genomes are often used for bioinformatic searches to determine the composition of the environmental microbiota, generated through the analyses of fragmented genomic sequences. Database errors, however, can negatively affect such analyses and/or produce misleading results. Tripp et al. analyzed sequencing results from a set of oceanic samples and human microbiome reference bacteria and found that misannotations of ribosomal RNA (rRNA) sequences were prevalent and are propagated, despite corrections. Given that sequences coding for rRNAs are often found in these samples and are used to determine their phylogenetic placement, such widespread errors suggest underlying problems in annotation. Furthermore, these errors can significantly bias analyses and be time-consuming to detect. On the basis of these results, the authors call for increased vigilance on the part of researchers and database curators to properly identify and annotate rRNAs.

Nucleic Acids Res. 39, 10.1093/nar/gkr576 (2011).

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