Genome Projects

Genome Projects are elucidating the complete genetic information or DNA sequence of an organism. This fundamental information will allow biologists and bio-medical researchers to understand the development of higher organisms and the biological foundations of diseases and infections. Biologists place great hopes in genomics to better understand the history of life on Earth. 

On February 12, 2001 the near completion of the Human Genome Project has been announced. Over 90% of over 3 billion nucleotides (building blocks of genes) are sequenced. Two pieces of information warrant closer attention. First, the number of genes is estimated to be about 30,000 about one third of what has been expected over the last two decades. Second, the complexity of interaction between genes and their products (proteins and RNA) is much greater than expected. this is particularly important based on the observation that genes cover a mere 5% of the entire 3 billion building blocks. The other 95% can be expected to play a role in the control of complexity, i.e., how these 30,000 something genes are activated, inactivated, and mutated. 

Most genome projects have deciphered the sequence of microbial and viral organisms. Among them are two strains of the coliform bacteria Escherichia coli. One of these E.coli is the cause of meat poisoning. Its known as E.coli O157:7 and can infect humans if entering the intestine while the K-12 strain is a benign member of our intestinal micro flora. The genomes of these two 'subspecies' differ by 25%.  Although they share about 4,000 genes in common, each strain has several hundred unique genes. Genetically, they might be considered different species. The species concept, however, may not be useful for bacteria and archaea as they are for fungi, plants, or animals. 


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Copyright © 2001-2012 Lukas K. Buehler