Genomics has the potential of offering new therapeutic methods for the treatment of some diseases, as well as new diagnostic methods. Other applications are in the food and agriculture sectors.
The major tools and methods related to genomics are bioinformatics, genetic analysis, measurement of gene expression, and determination of gene function.
Comparison of genomes has resulted in some surprising biological discoveries. If a particular DNA sequence is present among many members of a clade, that sequence is said to have been conserved among the species, implying that it confers a selective advantage to the organisms. Experimental investigation of these sequences (revealed by genomic sequencing) has shown that some are transcribed into small RNA molecules, although the functions of these RNAs were not immediately apparent.
The identification of similar sequences (including many genes) in two distantly related organisms, but not in other members of one of the clades, has led to the theory that these sequences were acquired by horizontal gene transfer. This phenomenon is most prominent in thermophilic bacteria, where it seems that genes were transferred from Archaea to Eubacteria. It has also been noticed that bacterial genes exist in eukaryotic nuclear genomes and that these genes generally encode mitochondrial and plastid proteins, giving support to the endosymbiotic theory of the origin of these organelles.
The first genome to be sequenced was that of Haemophilus influenzae[?] in 1995, and more genomes are being sequenced at an increasing pace. A rough draft of the human genome was completed by the Human Genome Project in early 2001 amid much fanfare.
Perhaps a geneticist (or should that be genomicist?) would care to comment on the significance, if any, of these statistics.
Human 99.9% (quoted by President Clinton, Jan 2000, State of the Union address; also Human Genome Project) 100% (identical twins) Chimpanzee 98.4% (sources: Americans for Medical Progress; Jon Entine in the San Francisco Examiner) 98.7% (Richard Mural of Celera, quoted on MSNBC) Mouse 98% (source: Americans for Medical Progress) Gorilla 97% (Queer Jihad web site) Dog 95% (Jon Entine in the San Francisco Examiner) Roundworm 74% (Jon Entine in the San Francisco Examiner) Banana 50% (source: Americans for Medical Progress)