Human fly bites rub Celera

When news surfaced in April that the recently published genome sequence of the fly Drosophila melanogaster was contaminated with human gene sequences, Celera (Rockville, MD), which produced the sequence, immediately removed the affected portions of data from its web site and began correcting the errors. Biologists generally agree that the scientific significance of the contamination in the initial sequence is trivial, but that did not stop researchers from the competing publicly financed Human Genome Project (HGP) from openly criticizing Celera for sloppiness. Celera spokesperson Heather Kowalski suggested that reporters at the Los Angeles Times, which broke the story to the general public, had “some kind of axe to grind with us, and [we] don't believe that this was any kind of a story at all.” Kowalski adds that “it's kind of hard for us to ponder… why people want to do us harm or say bad things about us.” The answer could lie in the ongoing acrimony between the competing genome sequencing efforts: Earlier in April, Celera President Craig Venter told members of Congress that the HGP might be producing shoddy data in its effort to win the sequencing race.

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Dove, A. Human fly bites rub Celera. Nat Biotechnol 18, 582 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/76349

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