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  • Joshua Guan

Are children chimpanzees?

Are children chimpanzees?

If you ever walked into an elementary school and mistook it for an ape enclosure, you aren’t too far from the truth. The average human shares roughly 98.7% of their genome with Chimpanzees. Determining this information is all possible with the advent of Comparative genomics. However comparative genomics is good for more than just making fun of some rowdy kids, and is crucial for both evolutionary biology and more practical purposes.

Oscar - Age 8

How is comparative Genomics carried out?

The way Comparative genomics is done is via genome correspondence First the genome is fully sequenced out. Then the orthologs, which are the genes where the species compared diverge genetically, are identified by similar functionality and similar amino acid alignment. Next, paralogous genes, genes from a deviation in the duplication event, are identified. The orthologs and paralogs are used to align the genome. This alignment can be placed within the same reference point, set in chunks to ignore duplication events, or aligned only with best-matching orthologs. This can lead to discrepancies in the interpretation of data but generally proves extremely vital for clinical research in analogous animals.

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Why is comparative genomics used at all?

Comparative genomics is useful because human conditions can be studied in a safer environment and completed more efficiently. For example, 2/3 of all cancer-related human genes have a direct counterpart in fruit flies, and these genes can be studied on demand.  Comparative genomics also helps researchers identify direct molecular treatments for diseases. For example, comparing individuals with healthy genomes and individuals can assist in identifying proper drug treatments.

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