Written By : Brittney Penland
VSU grad student, Fiifi Agyabeng-dadzie, develops Restriction Associated DNA Tags (RADTags) for the Ion Torrent Personal Genome Machine serving as the foundation for identifying genetic markers in organisms.
“Agyabeng-dadzie’s initial project for his thesis looks at a little hidden fish in VSU’s aquatic lab,” Dr. John Elder, Population and Molecular Genetics professor, said.
The fish is a hybrid between the species Kryptolebias marmoratus and Kryptolebias ocellatus, questioning the proposed status of the fish. Agyabeng-dadzie became interested in whether the two species are genetically very different.
“The sequencing he wanted to do has never been done before. As a result, he created the method to do it by developing a set of protocols to produce RADTags that pull out genomic sequencing and allows comparison,” said Dr. Elder. “The new methodology to produce genomes is extremely accurate and reproducible.”
Agyabeng-dadzie’s development paves the way for modern genomic sequencing to be done at VSU. Dr. Elder currently has two undergraduate students studying genetics and is planning on more students basing their work off of Agyabeng-dadzie’s method.
“Being the first to do this is a big deal,” Agyabeng-dadzie, graduate student, said. “I’m the foundation and I did most of the work on my own in the lab.”
Agyabeng-dadzie has expressed interest in genetics from a young age.
“While watching a TV program back home [in Ghana] with my Dad, I saw a big fowl and asked, ‘Why aren’t the livestock running around here that big?’” Agyabeng-dadzie said. “My dad replied, ‘They were engineered to be that big.’ After that, I knew I wanted to study genetics.”
He chose to attend graduate school at VSU after researching Dr. Elder’s work on population genetics. Although he has not finished the initial project for his thesis, he would like to if he had the time and was getting paid to do so. Agyabeng-dadzie’s future plan is to pursue a Ph.D.