New computational tool could change how we study pathogens

ScienceDaily | 3/25/2019 | Staff
bluelilly (Posted by) Level 3
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Their model, which incorporates advanced mathematical strategies, could help revolutionize the way researchers investigate the spread and distribution of dangerous, fast-evolving disease vectors.

The breakthrough research was an interdisciplinary collaboration between postdoctoral mathematician Somayeh Mashayekhi and computational biologist Peter Beerli, both in FSU's Department of Scientific Computing. Their findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Application - Calculus - Population - Genetics - Beerli

"Ours is the first application of fractional calculus to population genetics," Beerli said. "This will help us to give better estimates of quantities that may be important to combat pathogens."

The team's model, called the f-coalescent for its novel use of fractional calculus, follows in the lineage of a similar but more limited model called the n-coalescent. Proposed by the British mathematician John Kingman in 1982, the n-coalescent allowed scientists to make statistical statements about a population's past using data collected in the present.

N-coalescent - View - Relationships - Individuals - Beerli

"The n-coalescent introduced a retrospective view of relationships among individuals," Beerli said.

It allowed researchers to use genomic samples from a population to make probabilistic statements about the origins of different gene variants within that population. This gave scientists unprecedentedly rigorous insight into the scenarios and interactions that helped shape variability in a species over time.

Advantages - Hindrance - Model - Assumption - Populations

But for all its groundbreaking theoretical advantages, the n-coalescent had one major hindrance: The model operated under the assumption that populations are homogeneous. That is, it assumed each individual shared identical experiences, with the same adversities that threaten their survival and the same benefits that give them a competitive...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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