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Comparative genomics is a field of biological research in which the genomic features of different organisms are compared. The genomic features may include the DNA sequence, genes, gene order, regulatory sequences, and other genomic structural landmarks. In this branch of genomics, whole or large parts of genomes resulting from genome projects are compared to study basic biological similarities and differences as well as evolutionary relationships between organisms.
The major principle of comparative genomics is that common features of two organisms will often be encoded within the DNA that is evolutionary conserved between them. Therefore, comparative genomic approaches start with making some form of alignment of genome sequences and looking for orthologous sequences (sequences that share a common ancestry) in the aligned genomes and checking to what extent those sequences are conserved. Based on these, inference on genome and molecular evolution are made and this may in turn be put in the context of, for example, phenotypic evolution or population genetics
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Scope & Importance:
Comparative genomics is an exciting new field of biological research in which the genome sequences of different species - human, mouse and a wide variety of other organisms from yeast to chimpanzees - are compared.
By comparing the finished reference sequence of the human genome with genomes of other organisms, researchers can identify regions of similarity and difference. This information can help scientists better understand the structure and function of human genes and thereby develop new strategies to combat human disease. Comparative genomics also provides a powerful tool for studying evolutionary changes among organisms, helping to identify genes that are conserved among species, as well as genes that give each organism its unique characteristics.
Using computer-based analysis to zero in on the genomic features that have been preserved in multiple organisms over millions of years, researchers will be able to pinpoint the signals that control gene function, which in turn should translate into innovative approaches for treating human disease and improving human health.
In addition to its implications for human health and well-being, comparative genomics may benefit the animal world as well. As sequencing technology grows easier and less expensive, it will likely find wide applications in agriculture, biotechnology and zoology as a tool to tease apart the often-subtle differences among animal species. Such efforts might also possibly lead to the rearrangement of our understanding of some branches on the evolutionary tree, as well as point to new strategies for conserving rare and endangered species.
A simple comparison of the general features of genomes such as genome size, number of genes, and chromosome number presents an entry point into comparative genomic analysis. Data for several fully-sequenced model organisms is shown in Table 1. The comparisons highlight some striking findings. For example, while the tiny flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana has a smaller genome than that of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster (157 million base pairs v. 165 million base pairs, respectively) it possesses nearly twice as many genes (25,000 v. 13,000). In fact A. thaliana has approximately the same number of genes as humans (~25,000). Thus, a very early lesson learned in the "genomic era" is that genome size does not correlate with evolutionary status, nor is the number of genes proportionate to genome size.
1. National Human Genome Research Institute
2. Center for the Advancement of Genomics
3. Carolina Center for Genome Sciences
4. Research Institute for Genetic and Human Therapy
5. New York Genome Center
6. Genetic Information Research Institute
Genomic Companies :
2. Genetic Technologies Group
4. Ambry Genetics
5. Biospyder Technologies
6. Predictive biology
8. Cypher Genomics
9. Agena Bioscience
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This page was last updated on 15th Sep, 2015
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