Narrator: This is Science Today. Since its inception in 1997, the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute, which played a significant role in decoding the human genome, has helped countless researchers understand the underlying organization, function, and evolution of living systems. Rachel Mueller, a graduate student of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley worked with the Joint Genome Institute, or JGI, to analyze Plethodonids – the largest family of salamanders.
Mueller: Working at the JGI has been great because the technology there was developed to sequence the Human Genome, which is a huge amount of data and way more data than most people in evolutionary or organismal biology can ever get their hands on. People had tried in the past to figure out the Plethodonid family tree with genetic data, but it just wasn't possible to get enough genetic data to answer this type of question because these salamanders have been diverged from each other for so long – so it's so long ago, that you need quite a bit of information to get at that.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.