Using the Australian Research Cloud to unlock the secrets of evolution

Using the Australian Research Cloud to unlock the secrets of evolution
December 22, 2014 Sarah Nisbet

Professor Michael Lee

Associate Professor Mike Lee

I am investigating some of the biggest events in history of life, such as the initial radiation of animals during the Cambrian explosion, and the evolution of huge, ponderous dinosaurs into tiny, flying birds.

Most of the hard evidence for these events comes from the fossil record, but the most novel mathematical tools for these studies come from molecular biology (algorithms for inferring evolutionary trees and associated events).

Merging these disparate disciplines allow us to answer some intriguing questions such as “how fast did animals evolve during the Cambrian explosion” (http://theconversation.com/evolutions-big-bang-explained-and-its-slower-than-predicted-18098) and “how abruptly did body size change during the dinosaur-bird transition (Science 345: 562-566)”?

However, they are computationally very intensive, as we have to simultaneously consider many lines of evidence – which is where the computing resources of NeCTAR Australian Research Cloud are indispensable.

This work requires many compute jobs that need to run for weeks, which is not compatible with the walltime limits on HPC jobs.

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