Research on genetically manipulated free-living model nematodes has advanced swiftly and has resulted in a wealth of biological knowledge about basic nematode biology. Research on parasitic worms has progressed at a slower pace due to the intricacies of maintaining complex life cycles and the inherent difficulty in genetic manipulation. Consequently a divide has formed with little crosstalk between researchers of pathogenic and free-living nematodes. In 2007 the draft genome of Brugia malayi, a filarial pathogen of humans was published marking the foray of filariasis research into the genomics arena. By then those studying C. elegans had become so advanced with respect to bioinformatics that they had created their own language, one that parasitologists have difficulty understanding. The B. malayi genome is now being maintained on the C. elegans resource Wormbase (www.wormbase.org) and now more than ever it is crucial to familiarize the filariasis community with available bioinformatics resources so they can capitalize on the growing amount of genome, transcriptome, and proteome data that is becoming available for filarial worms. In 2011 the FR3 was charged by its Scientific Advisory Committee to promote use of bioinformatics resources within the filariasis research community. To that end, we have opened a dialogue between the developers of Wormbase, Nematode.net and Broad Institute to educate the filariasis community on use of their resources. Long-term solutions such as video tutorials and a formalized Sanger Institute-sponsored workshop are in the planning but will take years to accomplish. As a short-term solution, representatives from each of these entities put on an introductory bioinformatics workshop that coincided with the 2013 Annual FR3 Minicourse at University of Georgia and was attended by PIs, postdocs, graduate students and industry representatives. Participants benefitted from the workshop, as did the instructors who gained an appreciation for the intricacies and technical challenges of filarial biology that will help them tailor their resources towards parasitologists. These are the first steps to accomplishing collaborations that can benefit both parties by promoting real time face-to-face communication. The bioinformatics workshop was sponsored by New England Biolabs and the Borroughs Wellcome Fund.
Major technical and conceptual problems that C. elegans community might be able to address:
- Bringing parasitic nematode researchers up to speed on using bioinformatics tools such as Wormbase.
- Reliable methods of transgenesis in filarial nematodes.
- Selectable markers for transgenesis in filarial nematodes.
Articles submitted to the Worm Breeder's Gazette should not be cited in bibliographies. Material contained here should be treated as personal communication and cited as such only with the consent of the author.