Genetics: 70% of published genetic sequence comparisons are not publicly accessible?
Estimates of the amount of missing data were based on 7,539 peer-reviewed studies about animals, fungi, seed plants, bacteria and various microscopic organisms. Soltis said the missing genetic data has required project collaborators to contact hundreds of researchers to request information, or attempt to reproduce the sequence alignments and analyses, which is extremely labor intensive.
“There are ambiguities with the alignments, you have to make certain judgment calls, and so an alignment that I do is not going to be the same as an alignment that somebody else does,” said lead author Bryan Drew, a postdoctoral researcher in UF’s biology department. “It’s hard to assess a publication’s validity in a lot of cases if you don’t have access to the alignments. To me, that’s the biggest problem with all of this.”
It’s a big problem all right. And so are recent revelations such as that “Genome mapping shows tunafish related to fish with completely different body shape, lifestyles” and that tuna are closer to seahorse than marlin. And the two problems may be related.
Life forms that look alike, like the olingo and olinguito, may not be closely related. Life forms that look quite different, like the tuna and its relatives, may nonetheless be genetically related. How often does this happen? How much does it change? We really do need to look at all the data, as long as it is publicly accessible, and doesn’t just disappear into the vacuum of a science bureaucracy whose job is to minimize and hide problems or repackage them as solutions.
See also: ”WD40: some fish are more closely related ” to you than they are to tuna“