Our genetic databases are already corrupted

Illustration for article titled Our genetic databases are already corrupted

The big news, back in the day, was sequencing the human genome. It was a long, laborious process, and the resulting document was hardly a page-turner, but it meant that, if someone had the right technology, they could reconstruct human DNA from scratch. They could build a human. Now, they can build a whole lot of things. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has an online listing of genome projects both finished and unfinished, animal and plant. Among others they have the panda bear, the mallard, the moa, and the white-tufted-eared marmoset. The list is far from complete, but the work is ongoing, and one day, aliens may be able to use the web to find the way to re-build all the species on earth.


Although, when they do, they may just be whipping up hideous white-tufted-eared, human-marmoset hybrids. A survey of 2,749 online genome archives found human DNA fragments had contaminated the DNA sequences of other creatures.

Image by Michael Siegmund/Shutterstock

The blood, sweat, tears, follicles and skin fragments of many researchers got included in the non-human DNA being sequenced. Some human DNA sequences were only a few hundred bases long, but others stretched longer than a thousand. While experts say that that is to be expected in raw data, some assemblies show similar contamination. Computers are used to go over these finished sequences and skim off the human contamination, but that hasn't been happening.

Some non-human species were also found to be mixed up together. It's believed that this happened in the DNA libraries in which the samples for sequencing were kept. Although this is discouraging news for many, it leaves hope that someday, some ultra-powerful alien species will come to earth, filled with curiosity and compassion - and re-create a literal sharktopus. I hope they film it.

Via Scientific American.



No problem, just substitute the corrupt fragments with frog DNA. What can possibly go wrong?