I went to an interesting talk yesterday afternoon and I'm going to have to track down the speaker to get more info. She talked about a technique they used to looking through sequence information for differences between closely related populations of sea urchin. This is one of the great things about genomics. When a whole organism's genome has been sequenced, many conserved genes are found for example, and the functions of those genes are known or hypothesized based on their structure and sequence.
So if one knows some target genes' sequences, if I understood this technique, one can amplify all or part of the genes, and then look for specific short sequences that are targets for something called restriction enzymes. When the DNA incubates with the restriction enzyme, it gets cut at those short sequences, and if the organisms have different sequences or numbers of base pairs around that region, it shows up as differently sized pieces when you visualize your results. I think she had something like 700 meaningful (as in they weren't noise) differences for her stuff, which is a large number, especially between two populations that are similar genetically (and physically, I assume).
It's for stuff like that that I get excited about conferences for. I'm having my coffee at my brother's now before I head down to the conference. I'll devote a glowing post to their hospitality soon, but suffice it to say that I am blessed indeed to have such wonderful relatives and only hope that I can return the favor sometime. Since my younger brother isn't here, we're scheming to see if we can all get together toward the end of the summer, maybe in SC.
And, I get to fly to AZ in a couple of days to see CB. Life, it be good.
image from here