Readers forwarded us a recent transcriptome paper from Michael Snyder & Co. published in Nature Biotech. The authors used PacBio sequencing (CCS reads) to analyze the human transcriptome.
Despite our keen interest in learning about various applications of PacBio sequencing (explained here and here), we have not been able to go past the first few paragraphs of the paper. Blame that on our fear of ENCODE and its ability to create extremely sophisticated imprecise scientific terms.
The paper starts with -
The human transcriptome is extremely complex, with >100,000 distinct transcripts presently described for ~20,000 protein-coding genes.
and then follows soon with -
To investigate the potential of PacBio sequencing for analysis of complex transcriptomes, we generated…
Various questions pop up in our mind.
(i) What is the definition of ‘complexity’? Is it the number of transcripts per protein-coding gene?
(ii) Is human transcriptome unusually more ‘complex’ than other animal transcriptomes (say of ant or electric fish or rat or chimp)?
(iii) How did evolution make human transcriptome more complex than the others mentioned above, given that all of those transcriptomes have been evolving for similar amount of time?
(iv) What makes humans unusual?
We presume the last two questions have a ready answer. Humans are likely to have ‘extremely complex’ transcriptome, because we are the smartest animals on earth with the most ‘advanced’ brain structure. Naturally that also suggests that Mike Snyder’s transcriptome is the most ‘complex’ of all.
Jokes aside, are humans the smartest in terms of brain activity? Can Mike Snyder (and other lesser humans) beat this chimp in memory game?
Chimpanzees can far outperform humans in some mental tasks, including rapidly memorising and recalling numbers, Japanese scientists have shown.
At the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Tetsuro Matsuzawa, of Kyoto Universitys Primate Research Institute, showed remarkable videos of chimpanzees displaying mental dexterity that would be way beyond most people.
The star performer among the institutes 14 chimpanzees, a 12-year-old male called Ayumu, has learnt all the numerals from 1 to 19. Several other Kyoto chimpanzees have learnt 1 to 9.
When the numbers flash up in random places across a computer screen and in random order, and disappear after less than a second, the apes can point immediately to the exact locations where the numerals had been, in the correct numerical order.
Prof Matsuzawa said a few exceptional people, such as those with savant syndrome, might be capable of such memory feats but they are far beyond the average human brain. One person in several thousand may be able to do this, he said. All the chimps I have tested can do it.