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Shotgun approach bags the fruit fly genome

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5:47pm, August 23, 2002

When it comes to whole genomes, the bigger they are, the easier they seem to fall.

Scientists announced the completion of the largest genome yet decoded, that of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, last week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C.

Using a controversial approach called shotgun sequencing, a team at Celera Genomics in Rockville, Md., and several academic institutions decoded 97 percent of the 120 million bases that make up the protein-coding portion of the fruit fly genome. The scientists don't yet have the technology to tackle an additional 60-million-base section of the fruit fly genome that they say contains very few genes.

Many genome researchers have criticized Celera for using the shotgun sequencing method, but the technique has succeeded beyond even the most optimistic predictions, says Gerald Rubin, a geneticist who heads a fruit fly research project at the

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