What Is Genome Analysis?

Mary McMahon

Genome analysis is the detailed study of the genome in organisms from whales to bacteria. It provides critical information about the evolution and development of organisms that can be applied to topics such as genetic engineering and medicine. A number of governments fund genome analysis programs, which also are an area of interest in private industry. Some genome analysis databases are open to the public, along with formal papers based on genetic research. People who have an interest in this field can subscribe to professional publications to learn more about ongoing research.

Scientist with beakers
Scientist with beakers

In genome analysis, researchers subject the sequenced genome of an organism to further study. They might focus on a particular area and can compare it to other organisms. The researchers use the analysis to learn more about what different segments of the genome do and what happens when the genetic information is incorrect or varies from the norm. This can help them identify specific genes as well as learn more about genetic similarities across species.

One use for genome analysis can be in the precise identification of microorganisms such as bacteria. Researchers can compare the genome of an organism associated with an outbreak to samples in their library to determine whether the organism has been encountered before. The virulence of members of the same species can vary, depending on the kinds of toxins they produce, as seen in Escherichia coli bacteria, which come in many strains. Genome analysis can help epidemiologists determine the most appropriate and effective treatment, and they can use this technique to trace an outbreak.

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This process allows researchers to engage in genome mapping, in which they trace specific congenital conditions to particular areas of the genome. They also can find out where genes normally sit in the genome. Genome analysis and comparison might help identify rogue genes that could explain why some patients develop genetic conditions. It also can be helpful for the diagnosis and treatment of disease, particularly in patients who have unique conditions not previously identified, in which cases it can be important to understand what, precisely, is wrong with the patients' genes.

Researchers who work in this field typically have advanced degrees in genetics, biology or related topics. They might have postgraduate work to their credit along with their degrees. Employers can include government labs, pharmaceutical companies and private organizations that have an interest in genetics and bioinformatics. The researcher can trace epidemics, identify new treatments for genetic disorders and engage in activities such as breeding better crops and ornamental plants.

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