New DNA sequencing technologies ("next-generation sequencing", NGS) are currently revolutionizing the field of genomics due to their drastically reduced sequencing costs at much increased data output. Because of the short read length of the sequence data and the shear amount of data obtained, NGS requires the application of novel, specialized bioinformatical tools. Our aim is to establish NGS methodology in Mainz. This will initially be accomplished in the framework of two projects, which have until now been persued with conventional sequencing methods.
The work group Hankeln is part of the DFG priority project "Deep Metazoan Phylogeny", which aims at clarifying the deep phylogenetic relationships among animal phyla by phylogenomics approaches. This includes the sequencing of massive amounts of coding DNA sequence information from many taxa, the functional annotation of sequences and their application for reconstructing phylogenetic trees. By NGS technology we intend to substantially increase genomic data and to produce more reliable trees.
The work group Zischler investigates the evolution of PIWI genes and interacting piRNAs. These genes and their transcripts, which are functionally important for correct male gametogenesis, will be characterized by massively parallel sequencing in non-human primates. The comparison with human data will ultimately reveal species-specific features of piRNA/PIWI biogenesis and interactions, which may have profound evolutionary impact.