2022 AMI Online Salon

Filling the gaps

Project Details

  • Entrant Name:  Valerie Altounian
  • Client: AAAS/Science
  • Copyright: AAAS, 2022
  • Medium/software used: Illustrator
  • Final presentation format: printed journal cover and online issue
  • Primary Audience: Readers of Science, genetics community

Project Description

The Telomere to Telomere consortium set out to fill all remaining gaps of the reference genome left unresolved by the Human Genome Project. Their accomplishment was reported in 6 papers in this issue of Science. The challenge with this illustration was that only 8% of the genome remained and the work was very technical and nonvisual. Since these papers were all about contributing data, I reasoned that a data visualization would be an appropriate way to showcase their work as a whole. The researchers provided a linear visualization of each chromosome with newly added regions highlighted. I made thoughtful use of Illustrator tools to draw each chromosome into shapes while keeping their relative proportions accurate. High contrast denotes the new sequences (red) from the rest (white) to ensure the somewhat small amount of new sequences did not get lost. The background tone is close to white and tinted toward red. To further emphasize the work of the consortium, I drew the chromosomes into arcs so the eye is lead from end to end, or telomere to telomere. Each chromosome begins at bottom right and reads from outside in X, 1-22. Though the sex chromosomes are typically shown after chromosome 22, here chromosome X is in front of 1 (chromosome Y was not included in the dataset) for design purposes due to its lengthiness. Those in the genetics field should recognize this image as genetically themed and those outside it should appreciate its pleasing design.