My Musings on Mom & Metagenomes

–bumped for  Mother’s  Day.   MaryMom and Me Image

In college my mother majored in English education. Not surprisingly, I was encouraged to read literature and memorize poetry. At a time when my career aspirations leaned towards becoming an actress or a linguist (I was 9), my mother introduced me to The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carrol. The drama, imagery and turns-of-phrase that I found in it suited me to a T. A bit later, when I was in college and struggling to get through my Electrical Engineering (E.E.) classes, my mother again introduced me to something that fit me perfectly – this time it was Molecular Genetics. I had begun to search for a major that I had more aptitude for than E.E., and she had read ‘an interesting article somewhere’. Well, that’s all it took for me to be hooked by this lovely science in which I currently have a career.

Jabberwocky Genome Image Ah, but what’s this got to do with metagenomes? Well, in this season for Mom musing – Sunday is Mother’s Day after all – I began to imagine the repercussions if my mother’s two introductions could collide. What if we could sequence the genomes of all of the creatures we had ever met in our favorite poems? What would the metagenome of a Jabberwocky’s gut microbes look like? Would we learn remarkable new things if we sequenced a Lorax’s genome? I guess we will have to stick to sequencing non-fictional genomes for now, but it is fun to muse…

Happy Mother’s Day!

5 thoughts on “My Musings on Mom & Metagenomes

  1. Nancy Marin (Mom)

    BACK AT YOU
    How grateful I am for this lovely tribute – on your Company Website no less.
    My initial response was “what in the heck is Jen talking about?” I’ve never heard of a metagenome. But I’m a brain churner, and as I churned I focused on what I do know. There must be a term that you brilliant, dedicated scientists use for it, but I’ll just call it RECEPTION and RESPONSE. Without R & R there is no thought, suggestion, or effort that reaches any value.
    One of the great gifts of my life is parenting “receptors”.
    Has anyone read an interesting poem lately?
    NM

  2. Mary

    I’m sure Jennifer can explain metagenomics for you–she’s our metagenome expert :)

    It was sweet for Jennifer to think of a Mother’s Day post. And it seems totally related to me–50% of my genes came from my mom–but it isn’t something in the front of my brain every day. It was nice to connect that….

  3. Pingback: Metagenomic Resources from The National Academy of Science | The OpenHelix Blog

  4. Jennifer

    Hi Seema,

    I’m not sure exactly what you mean by ‘literature to metagenomes’. If you mean you’d like basic literature explaining what a metagenome is, I’d suggest you check out our free introductory tutorial on the IMG/M resource http://www.openhelix.com/downloads/imgm/imgm_home.shtml, which is sponsored by the Joint Genome Institute http://www.jgi.doe.gov/. In it, I give a brief overview of how metagenomes differ from individual genomes AND show you how to use the IMG/M resource http://img.jgi.doe.gov/m/, which is a repository of Metagenomic data & sequences.

    You can also find lots of info & links to info about metagenomes right here in our blog, since we have multiple posts on the subject. Just type the keyword “metagenome” into the search box (at the top right of the blog page) and hit enter.

    For a nice little overview, I’d suggest this article http://dels.nas.edu/dels/rpt_briefs/metagenomics_brief_final.pdf

    BTW, your name (Seema) brings back happy memories of a friend I worked with back in the ’80s at The Ohio State University. Thanks for commenting!

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