The Basics of Genome Research and Its Usefulness

While the word may sound complex, “genome” is simply a term used to talk about an organism’s DNA make-up. Scientists use the genome (an organism’s DNA) to study and understand genes, DNA, nucleotides, and much more to understand how a living creature is built and how it operates. For example, scientists have studied and figured out the whole genome for humans, mice, and other animals.

The Purpose of Genome Research

What’s the point of studying genomes? Scientists use the information they’ve discovered to create a genome map, or a visual representation showing the location of genes in relation to particular regions of a chromosome. With that map, scientists and medical professionals are better able to diagnose diseases and make treatment plans. Medical practitioners follow the path of inherited traits. Farmers and crop scientists improve crops. The genome contains a huge amount of information, so there are many, many uses of a genome map.

Genome Research Attracts Many Scientists

You’re most likely to find scientists working with genomes, but as they become more familiar to the public, professionals from many industries have begun to use the information. In many circumstances, scientists publish their research online for public use. An interesting fact that highlights the amount of work being done is that the first human genome map took twenty years to complete; modern human maps are completed within a single day.

Two Methods of Genome Mapping

How are genomes mapped? Remember, the process of genome mapping is used to isolate and identify the location of a gene and its distance from other genes on a chromosome. For the map to be complete, the location of all the genes on a chromosome within DNA must be identified and recorded. Additionally, this must be done for every chromosome within the DNA.

Clearly, it is a big task. Scientists use two methods to complete the job; genetic mapping and physical mapping. The first method focuses on the shuffle of information within different regions of a chromosome and between chromosomes. The second method measures the physical distance between identified DNA sequences by counting the number of base pairs between each sequence.

Genetic Markers at Work

Genetic markers, sometimes referred to as landmarks, are areas of DNA that don’t contain a gene. Scientists use these markers as points of reference. Experts who use genetic mapping, including companies such as Macrogen Lab, use the landmarks to improve whole genome and capillary sequencing, develop bioinformatic services, and run cancer panels.

A Brief Review of Genome Mapping

Here’s a quick overview of what a genome map does:

  • The map draws attention to the main landmarks in an organism’s genetic makeup.
  • The map helps scientists find their way around the genome.
  • Genome mapping provides the foundation for whole-genome sequencing projects.
  • The information is then used in a wide variety of industries.

It’s important to remember that the map isn’t ever really completed; instead, it should be considered a work in progress.

What Genome Projects Mean to You

There are many benefits of genome mapping, especially within the medical field. Physicians use the maps to better understand their patients’ medical conditions. The research has come along way since its infancy, but new technology has rapidly increased the progression of the science. With more understanding and wide-spread education, this is an area of science that could have broad-reaching effects throughout the medical community.