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Yeti or not: Do they exist?

Author(s): Keith Johnson

Bradley University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Through this 2-part bioinformatics case study, students will be led through the forensic analysis of putative Yeti artifacts based on published findings.


In the first part of the case study, students will review the inheritance patterns of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Students will also review and compare prokaryotic DNA replication with the technique of Sanger dideoxy-sequencing. This part of the case study can easily be given during a classroom lecture period.

In the second (take home) part of the case study, students are introduced to the GenBank database of sequences and the BLAST algorithm. Students are led through a BLAST search using short, published DNA fragments from purported Yeti artifacts. The sequences are compared with the GenBank database to determine if there is a match, create a multiple sequence alignment (ClustalOmega) and a relationship tree. In a ‘Breaking News’ addition, a separate sequence is provided which currently does not match any sequence from the database, but is clearly related. Students are asked to perform a BLAST search on this ‘new’ sequence and make some conclusions. The assessment of the second part has been performed through a course website.

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