DNA Sequencing Industry to Develop as Researchers Discover DNA sequences, termed as 'Borgs'
Posted On December 22, 2021
The Borg are cybernetic aliens from the Star Trek television series who assimilate humans and other creatures to achieve perfection.
A geomicrobiologist uncovered an unusual linear chromosome containing genes from various microbes while sifting through DNA in her backyard dirt. The identity of the new type of genetic material remained a mystery. Perhaps it was a piece of a viral genome. It could have been a weird bacterium or merely a fragment of DNA that existed outside of cells. Regardless, it could be a fascinating breakthrough for the DNA Sequencing Industry. The members have named the new DNA a Borg.
Many examples of DNA floating freely outside the chromosome or chromosomes that make up an organism's normal genome have been discovered by researchers. Plasmids, for instance, are little loops that live inside germs and ferry genes for evading antibiotics among bacteria.
The researchers were not looking for DNA that could be passed from one organism to another. Instead, they were seeking viruses that infect archaea (a microorganism that thrives in low-oxygen settings). They'd dig a meter or more below ground level and collect mud samples that could contain archaea and their viruses. They would then sequence every stretch of DNA in the samples and search for sequences that indicated a virus rather than any other organism using sophisticated computer tools.
The researchers began with a speck of muck and 10 trillion DNA strands. A gene-filled length of DNA about 1 million bases long was found in one sample obtained from the mud on a property, with more than half of the genes being unique. This linear stretch of DNA also featured a specific arrangement of bases at the start and end. Further, it also included a discrete section of repetitive DNA between its genes and two points along the sequence where DNA duplication could occur, indicating that the Borg could duplicate itself. This, taken together, revealed it wasn't just a random mix of genes.
Following the first Borg sequence discovery, the researchers began searching public databases for microbial DNA to see if they might uncover anything comparable. They discovered a few differences in Colorado groundwater—the first suspected Borg appeared about 1 metre down and were more prevalent as they went deeper. Other versions were also discovered in the DNA acquired from a discharge present in an abandoned mercury mine and a shallow riverbed.
In total, the researchers found 23 sequences that they believed could be Borgs, with 19 of them matching all of the features of the first Borg they had uncovered.