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New web-based application tracks evolution of pathogens

A new online mapping program known as SupraMap could help public health officials predict and respond to infectious diseases outbreaks more effectively, according to a paper published in the journal Cladistics.

Supramap operates on parallel programming on high-performance computing systems at Ohio State University and the Ohio Supercomputer Center. According to a release the application:

Integrates genetic sequences of pathogens with geographic information so that researchers can track the spread of a disease among different hosts and follow the emergence of key mutations across time and space. With Supramap, users can submit raw genetic sequences and obtain a phylogenetic tree of strains of pathogens. The resulting tree is then projected onto the globe by Supramap and can be viewed with Google Earth. Each branch in the evolutionary tree is geo-located and time-stamped. Pop-up windows and color of branches show how pathogen strains mutate over space and time and infect new hosts.

A demonstration of how researchers are using the technology to monitor the H1N1 virus at the global and local level is show in the above video.

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