Researchers have assembled the first reference genome for the Nile rat — a kind of genetic template of this species that may be used for laboratory and clinical studies. The hope, according to UC Santa Barbara researcher Huishi Toh, is that it will be useful for those who investigate Type 2 diabetes and neurological disorders associated with a disrupted diurnal rhythm. The Nile rat is prone to diet-induced diabetes, and exhibits a clear diurnal pattern, unusual in rodents.
“It was a risk, and it took a long time,” said Toh, an assistant project scientist in cell biologist Dennis Clegg’s lab, continuing work that she started in the lab of UCSB emeritus professor of biology Dr. Jamie Thomson. “But when you’re assembling a new genome, you have to be aware of various sequencing errors.” Toh is the lead author in a paper that appears in BMC Biology.