Humana Press has recently released a new volume of interest to parasitologists: Parasite Genomics Protocols, edited by Sara E. Melville. The book contains a mix of basic information about genomics and molecular and cellular methods for genetic analysis of protozoan and helminth parasites. The introductory three chapters outline basic approaches for genome sequencing, annotation of the output sequence, and bioinformatics methods for accessing and using whole genome information. These chapters are likely to be useful to a novice since they fill in some conspicuous gaps that often prevent beginners from even trying to examine genomic information from their favorite organism. In this spirit, definitions of terms, explanations of the approaches used in sequencing, and the problems encountered during analysis of several parasite genomes all provide a useful foundation. Lists of web sites and explanations of the kinds of questions that can now be asked (and sometimes) answered add to the utility of this first section.
The remainder of the volume describes methods that have been used to analyze particular aspects of parasite genomic information. All of these chapters share a similar format. There is a short explanation of the utility of the protocols described, followed by detailed lists of required materials (and where to purchase them), step-by step methods, and a discussion of common pitfalls with suggestions on how to avoid them. Several chapters focus on analysis of sequence information, and these chapters include the PERL script written by the authors and alternative approaches to attain the same end. The chapters that focus on molecular and cellular methods describe protocols for analysis of both protozoan and helminth parasites. Some of the methods are extremely specific to particular organisms, transfection in Plasmodium falciparum, for example. However, in several cases, the authors do provide some guidelines for adapting the methods to one’s own favorite organism as well.
Hardbound volumes of protocols are doomed to obsolescence almost before they are published; methods evolve quickly. Despite this, the chapters provide clear methods with sufficient detail so that one can get started on a new technique. With this foundation, modifications can follow as things move along. The book is part of the Methods in Molecular Biology series from Humana Press, and the detailed table of contents with abstracts of each article can be accessed on the Humana Press website (www.humanapress.com). Each chapter is extremely specific, so one should check to see whether a technique of interest is included. In hardcover, the book is expensive, ($119.50), but it can also be purchased in electronic format for download as a pdf file ($94.05). Overall, Parasite Genomics Protocols could be a useful addition to your bookshelf if you are a novice, but you anticipate that genomic approaches should be your next step. It will ease your transition into the ‘omic world.