Mapping Genomes

Genomics is the study of entire genomes, including the complete set of genes, their nucleotide sequence and organization, and their interactions within a species and with other species. Genome mapping is the process of finding the locations of genes on each chromosome. The maps that genome mapping create are comparable to the maps that we use to navigate streets. A genetic map is an illustration that lists genes and their location on a chromosome. Genetic maps provide the big picture (similar to an interstate highway map) and use genetic markers (similar to landmarks). A genetic marker is a gene or sequence on a chromosome that co-segregates (shows genetic linkage) with a specific trait. Early geneticists called this linkage analysis. Physical maps present the intimate details of smaller chromosome regions (similar to a detailed road map). A physical map is a representation of the physical distance, in nucleotides, between genes or genetic markers. Both genetic linkage maps and physical maps are required to build a genome’s complete picture. Having a complete genome map of the genome makes it easier for researchers to study individual genes. Human genome maps help researchers in their efforts to identify human disease-causing genes related to illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and cystic fibrosis. We can use genome mapping in a variety of other applications, such as using live microbes to clean up pollutants or even prevent pollution. Research involving plant genome mapping may lead to producing higher crop yields or developing plants that better adapt to climate change.

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