What is a genome?

15.11.05_genomeA GENOME is the sum total of all the genetic material inside each cell of an organism and contains all the genetic information needed to maintain the functioning and growth of the organism. All living things have their own unique genome.

In humans, every single one of our millions of cells contains over 3 billion bits of DNA coding, which make up the human genome. It is a blueprint for building a human. This DNA code is made up of four chemicals that are known as base pairs and are given a letter for identification: A (adenine) + T (thymine), G (guanine) + C (cytosine). If you read out aloud these 3.2 billion base pair letters on a printout of the human genome, it would take you about a hundred years to get to the end of the list!

In 1990, in the world’s largest biological project, a number of research institutions and universities around the world collaborated to map out and identify all the genetic material in the human genome – all 3.2 billion bits of coding. The project was completed in 2002 and is certainly one of mankind’s greatest scientific achievements. It has opened up many new avenues of research in medicine and biotechnology engaged in using this genetic data, and for those of us involved in genealogy, it has provided a wonderful new tool for helping to make connections in genealogical research.

You can read more about the human genome and the human genome project here:
Human Genome Project Information Archive
National Human Genome Research Institute
Your Genome

Photo source: http://www.abc.net.au

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