A genome is all of a living thing’s genetic material. It is the entire set of hereditary instructions for building, running, and maintaining an organism, and passing life on to the next generation. The whole shebang.
In most living things, the genome is made of a chemical called DNA. The genome contains genes, which are packaged in chromosomes and affect specific characteristics of the organism.
Imagine these relationships as a set of Chinese boxes nested one inside the other. The largest box represents the genome. Inside it, a smaller box represents the chromosomes. Inside that is a box representing genes, and inside that, finally, is the smallest box, the DNA.
In short, the genome is divided into chromosomes, chromosomes contain genes, and genes are made of DNA.
The word ” genome ” was coined in about 1930, even though scientists didn’t know then what the genome was made of. They only knew that the genome was important enough, whatever it was, to have a name.
Some current and potential applications of genome research include
- Molecular medicine
- Energy sources and environmental applications
- Risk assessment
- Bioarchaeology, anthropology, evolution, and human migration
- DNA forensics (identification)
- Agriculture, livestock breeding, and bioprocessing
- Return to Red Siskin Initiative Fall 2015