Comparative Genomics

First, the vast numbers of species and the much larger size of some genomes makes the entire sequencing of all genomes a non-optimal approach for understanding genome structure. Second, within a given species most individuals are genetically distinct in a number of ways. What does it actually mean, for example, to "sequence a human genome"? The genomes of two individuals who are genetically distinct differ with respect to DNA sequence by definition. These two problems, and the potential for other novel applications, have given rise to new approaches which, taken together, constitute the field of comparative genomics.

Examining genome sequences from multiple species, comparative genomics offers new insight into genome evolution and the way natural selection moulds DNA sequence evolution. Functional divergence, as manifested in the accumulation of nonsynonymous substitutions in protein-coding genes, differs among lineages in a manner seemingly related to population size. Comparative mapping provides data on gene neighbors and gene environment.

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