Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lessons from the first comprehensive survey of prokaryote genomics

Genomics of bacteria and archaeal: the emerging dynamic view of the prokaryotic world. Eugene V. Koonin & Yuri I. Wolf, Nucleic Acids Research (2008)

The first bacterial genome (Haemophilus influenzae) was published in 1995, ushering in the so-called age of genomics. Since then, exponentially increasing numbers of whole-genome sequencing projects have generated a huge amount of raw data. While this holds great promise for developing our understanding of how prokaryotic genomes are formed and function, extracting meaningful observations from that mountain of data is a big challenge.

Drs Eugene Koonin and Yuri Wolf recently tackled this daunting task and embarked on a comprehensive survey of the genomic data produced to date by microbial sequencing projects. Their latest paper, titled “Genomics of bacteria and archaea: the emerging dynamic view of the prokaryotic world”, presents their findings in a dense but rich monograph that offers deep insight into processes of genome evolution and defines general principles of prokaryotic genome organization.

Although there can be no substitute for reading the original paper, a point-by-point summary of the paper that may interest readers is provided here.

Dr. Geraldine A. Van der Auwera
Harvard Medical School

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