How is bioinformatics transforming biology?

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Bioinformatics is related to the integration of databases, software tools, and computers to address biological questions. It is often utilized for projects that generate enormous data sets. Two large-scale fields that use bioinformatics are genomics and proteomics. Bioinformatics relates to the analysis of genomes. A genome is basically a complete set of DNA sequences that code for hereditary material that is passed on from generation to generation. These sequences include all of the genes and transcripts included within the genome. On the other hand, proteomics refers to the analysis of the complete set of proteins or proteome. Additionally, there are many other areas of biology where bioinformatics are applied.

Researchers and scientists are currently studying the next wave of bioinformatics in biology and they refer to it as systems biology. Systems biology is an approach to tackle new and complex biological questions. It involves the integration of genomics, proteomics, and bioinformatics information to create a system view of a biological entity. To give an example, the way a signaling pathway works in a cell can be addressed through systems biology. The genes that are involved in this pathway, how they interact, and how modifications change the outcomes can all be modeled using systems biology. The system where information can be represented digitally offers a potential application for bioinformatics. Bioinformatics can be applied from something as small as a single cell to something as large as a whole ecosystem.

The beginning of bioinformatics can be attributed to Margaret Dayhoff in 1968 and her collection of protein sequences known as the Atlas of Protein Sequence and Structure. One of the earliest experiments in bioinformatics was the application of a sequence similarity searching program to the identification of a viral gene’s origins. In this study, researchers used one of the first sequence similarity to search computer programs and determine that the contents of v-sis were most similar to a PDFG gene. Bioinformatics is an important word in science. Scientists find this particular subject interesting because they believe it holds the potential to uncover a whole other world of uncharted territory. Bioinformatics is a new science and also a new way of thinking. Many believe that this field can lead to many new and interesting discoveries. Bioinformatics combines the most revolutionary aspects of technology and biology to understand the most complex of phenomenons.

-Sanaa Dalvi

Author at StemTalksNC

 

Credits:

“WHAT IS BIOINFORMATICS?” SCQ, 6 Sept. 2006, http://www.scq.ubc.ca/what-is-bioinformatics/.

Luscombe, N M, et al. “What Is Bioinformatics? A Proposed Definition and Overview of the Field.” Methods of Information in Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2001, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11552348.

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