To match our sequences with known ones, we used the BLAST feature on the NCBI GenBank. This online database contains millions of species' genomes. We found that our DNA samples had around a 98%-99% overlap with known genomes, which is considered quite distant by scientific terms.
We can use these results to help Holly answer questions such as do certain genera of birds at specific elevations tend to be infected more than others? Do particular vectors infect particular families, genera, or species over others? Have these vectors co-evolved with the birds they infect? Do interactions amongst different genera of hosts lead vectors to infect more organisms? How many potential vectors can carry/pass on strains of malaria?
At the start of this internship, we didn't really know if our work was going to be a significant contribution to the Emerging Pathogens Project. But as it turns out, the data we collected proved very useful (also with no errors!), and Holly plans on incorporating it into a paper she will be publishing!
- Kit and Simona -