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Volume 15, Number 4—April 2009

Another Dimension

Travels in Gene Space

Julian W. TangComments to Author 
Author affiliation: National University Hospital, Singapore

Suggested citation for this article

The Captain peers over the bow of his computer ship,
Floating down the river of evolution-time,
In the landscape of gene-space.
Gene sequences running parallel on either side,
Spreading, evolving, as far as the eye can see.
Ahead, the future is unclear, sequences shrouded in mist.
But this is no surprise.
Prediction is a risky business.
Looking behind, some sequences shine brightly,
Known samples, from known times.
Others are blurred in the mists of time past.
The Captain taps his keyboard.
Some of the mist dissipates,
And some sequences become visible
In the light of inference.
An epidemic history revealed perhaps?
The Captain sighs and taps his keyboard again.
His environment changes.
He is now surrounded by hills and valleys,
With moving figures all around him.
Markov Chain Monte Carlo robots,
Walking, climbing, up and down.
Some, aimlessly wandering in circles,
In the undulating landscape of tree-space.
He taps his keyboard once more.
The MCMC robots change direction,
Seemingly, becoming more purposeful.
The Captain allows himself a smile.
Suddenly, he feels a tug on his leg.
Looking down, he sees the cherubic face
Of his young son, looking up at him.
“Can we play football, daddy?”

Dr Tang is a clinical and academic virologist with an interest in viral molecular epidemiology and evolution, particularly how sequence analysis with phylogenetic techniques may enhance our understanding of how outbreaks and epidemics may arise and evolve.

Suggested citation for this article: Tang JT. Travels in gene space [another dimension]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the internet]. 2009 Apr [date cited]. Available from

DOI: 10.3201/eid1504.080823

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Table of Contents – Volume 15, Number 4—April 2009

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Julian W. Tang, Division of Microbiology/Molecular Diagnostic Centre, Department of Laboratory Medicine, National University Hospital, 5 Lower Kent Ridge Rd, Singapore 119074

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