What are genomes and why are they important in cellular organisms?

in StemSocial7 months ago (edited)

What is a Genome?

Every living organism is made up of cells. Cells play a vital role in the biological composition, growth and functioning of every living thing.

Cells of any living organism contains the DNA(pronounced fully as deoxyribonucleic acid) of that organism.

enter image description here
Red blood cells - Pixabay

A genome then can be described as the complete set of DNA within a living cell in an organism which provides all the instructions required to help the organism grow and perform its functions.

A genome is a set of genetic information in an organism.

Genomes help to set the defining characteristics of the organism housing them through the DNA of that organism.

The genome of every organism is unique to that organism.

The genetic code formed by a genome in a cellular organism is usually based on the nucleotide bases that makes up the root composition of the DNA including adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine all of which can be abbreviated to A, C, G and T collectively known as the nitrogenous base.

Asides the above paragraph, DNA nucleotide also contains deoxyribose sugar and phosphate group.

enter image description here
DNA - Pixabay

What is Genomics

While genomes can be defined as a complete group of DNA that makes up a cell, genomics on the other hand is the study of genomes and gene functions.

Genomics is an important field of study because it can help to better understand the nature of diseases that can be inherited from an organism's ancestors or ones that are caused by mutations.

Where can we find genomes in an organism

Generally, genomes can be found in the nucleus of a cell which houses the DNA of the organism it is in(not always though).

Each DNA unit is bundled up into what is known as chromosomes. Each cell in a human is said to contain up to 3.2 billion base pairs of DNA producing a duplicate of the genome for that organism in the cell.

A single tiny piece DNA is formed through the combination and reaction of two nucleotide bases in a phosphodiester bond.

Two DNA pieces can be combined to react in a hydrogen bond to form a double helix structure.

enter image description here
Eukaryot cell nucleus - Pixabay

DNA sequencing

Remember that we mentioned that DNA is made up of four nucleotides bases which are the adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine bases.

The order in which these bases are paired and arranged in a DNA determines the characteristics embedded in that DNA.

DNA sequencing is a process used in determining the pair order of DNA strands in the nucleus in order to determine the characteristics embedded in that DNA.

Some popularly cited and accepted methods of DNA sequencing includes the

  • Location-specific primer extension strategy by Ray Wu
  • DNA sequencing by chemical degradation by Walter Gilbert and Allan Maxam.

DNA sequencing is useful in many fields because it can help figure out the different genomes of different organisms.

enter image description here
Chromatogram showing DNA sequence of a genome - Pixabay

Genomes in Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes

A prokaryotic organism is one that has been determined not to have a nucleus in each of its cells while an eukaryotic organism is one that has been found to have a nucleus in each of its cells.

Remember that we mentioned somewhere above that genomes are stored in the nucleus of a cell. Well, that's not totally true.

For prokaryotic organisms(i.e one not possessing a nucleus in its cells) the genomes are instead stored in the nucleoid.

Prokaryotes generally possess a less structured DNA than eukaryotes and also DNA in prokaryotes are really not made up of chromosomes unlike in eukaryotes.


Prokaryot cell - Pixabay

Dangers of altering or manipulating genes in genomes

Due to the advancement experienced in the field of genomics over the years, scientists have been able to run experiments aimed at altering the genetic code of organisms.

The utility of altering genes in a genome is the possibility of it helping to boost advancements in fields like genetics, medicine, biology and so on.

However, genome alteration can be dangerous due to its very experimental nature and relative newness of genomics as a branch of science.

For example gene alteration can lead to cancer cells forming in an organism as a result of the cells exposure to mutagens that are not native to that cell causing the cells to experience a high rate of division and stimulating them to invade areas around their current environments.

Conclusion

In this post we have been able to define genomes and genes while talking about why they are important in every cellular organism.

Personally, I think the idea of studying genes and genomes is a thing of the future. Though, today the field of genomics has made quite an advance in the study of genomes and DNA, however I feel like we have only just scratched the surface and there is a lot more that can be uncovered or accomplished in relation to genomes.

Who knows, maybe in 10 - 20 years from now we would have total cure for cancer through the study of genomes, maybe we will even be able to create real-life supermen. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

What do you think, let me know in the comment section.

References

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