By Barry Barnes
Written in basic language yet with no denying the complexity of the problems, Genomes and What to Make of Them is either an updated primer and a blueprint for the future.
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Extra resources for Genomes and What to Make of Them
But while some researchers preferred to remain agnostic about them and to use them simply as tools, others with materialist inclinations speculated that they existed as tiny discrete particles of matter. And with good reason, this latter view became increasingly widespread over time. It was hard to understand mutation, and especially its induction by radiation and chemical reagents, other than as a transformation of matter. It was no less hard to understand the way that genes were localized on chromosomes in any terms other than those of a materialist beads-on-a-string or links-of-a-chain model.
To sequence an appropriate bit of DNA would identify the specifications for a particular protein. Suppose, however, that we could isolate and sequence all the DNA in the chromosomes of an organism. Then we would have the specifications for all the proteins in that organism. We would have the sequence of the genome of the whole organism, and within that sequence, somewhere, would be the sequences of all the genes. And thus, it was supposed, the human genome, defined as the entirety of the DNA in a human cell, would contain all the sequences relevant to producing a human, the Drosophila genome would have all those relevant to producing a fruit fly, and so forth.
And here matters are complicated in most complex organisms by the existence of sex. This may take many observable forms, from pollination in plants to the impregnation of females with sperm in animals, but it culminates in the fusion of two cells into one, the fertilized egg cell or zygote, the successive divisions of which eventually produce a fully formed adult of the next generation. Crucial insights into inheritance involving sexual reproduction were provided by the work of Gregor Mendel on pea plants.
Genomes and What to Make of Them by Barry Barnes