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The Fantasy Genome Project

In her blog for the New York Times, evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson muses on the nature of genomics and sequencing:

Here’s a game for a rainy afternoon. If you could pick any organism to have its whole genome sequenced — what would it be?

I played this recently, and it made me ponder. For it raises another, more fundamental question: what does a genome actually tell us?

A genome is an inventory of an organism’s DNA. Genes are made of DNA, so looking at a whole genome tells us all of an organism’s genes. Or it will one day.

At the moment, our ability to interpret whole genomes is patchy: it’s like trying to read a foreign language with an incomplete dictionary and grammar. We don’t yet know what most genes do, or how they interact with each other.
 
 

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