Texas A&M researcher develops software tool to help bacteria mutation research

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 10:55 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A researcher at Texas A&M has developed new software that will help advance bacteria mutation research.

Developed by Texas A&M Biostatistics Professor Qi Zheng, the software helps researchers boost the speed of their work by supplying them the algorithms they need to make sense of their data. The algorithms help them estimate mutation rates.

”Nowadays, we can develop a so-called web tool, where that web tool is very intuitive,” Zheng said. “You just type in the data, hit a certain key, and you will see the estimates of the mutation rates.”

It saves scientists time because they no longer need to learn complex programming and software languages to reach their conclusions. Zheng says his web tool eliminates an important barrier for these researchers in their work.

“Biologists need two things. One is a good algorithm. Two is an easy to use software tool,” Zheng said. “I developed a package so they don’t have to learn the language. Learning that language is not convenient because it’s unfamiliar and could take a lot of time.”

According to the World Health Organization, 700,000 people die every year due to infections caused by bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics. Zheng says his software will be instrumental in helping to stop this global health problem.

“Some bacterial strains will develop resistance more rapidly than others, so we want to identify the most dangerous strain. Most dangerous means it can mutate faster than other strains,” Zheng said. “My tool accelerates this research in some sense. It makes the data that’s collected make sense faster.”

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