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Discuss the Impact of Genome Sequences on the Study of Development

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Cells and Development Discuss the Impact of Genome Sequences on the Study of Development Development refers to the biological process an organism undergoes during growth. The introduction of genetics this century has greatly accelerated our understanding in this field. It appears to be exponential, continually more scientists are being drawn into the field and more data is being generated. In this essay I will briefly outline the course of development as a subject over the past 100 years (with a slight bias towards animal development) commenting on how important the use of model organisms has become and the contribution to the field their genomes have made. Development started with Aristotle in the 4th century BC. He noted the different ways in which animals were born, oviparity, viviparity etc, and began to look at the transition from conception to adulthood. Not much happened in the study for about 2000 years, until a man named William Harves in 1651 made the profound statement that all animals are from eggs, "ex ovo omnia". The subject never really took off because the specimens were too small to analyse. The invention of the microscope revolutionised the science and allowed study of these once unseen structures. This coupled with the Morgan's' use of Mendel's' genetic theory to create the chromosomal theory of inheritance allowed scientists to begin to make quantitative assessments and start asking new questions. Despite it's hazy and undramatic origins the field aquired a recognisble unity by the 1930's. ...read more.


Model organisms that are in use today represent specific sections of the phylogenetic tree: E-coli Prokaryotes Sacchromyces cerevisiae (Yeast) Basic Eukaryotes Aribidopsis thaliana Angiosperm plant Caenorhabditis elegans Nematode worm Drosophila melanogatser Insects and invertebrates Brachydanio rerio (Zebra danios) Vertebrates Mus musculus Vertebrates Homo sapiens Vertebrates (not strictly a model organism but a lot of research has gone into it) Arabidopsis is the perfect model organism as it has many of the attributes listed above. Arabidopsis thaliana is a member of the mustard family, a typical angiosperm. It has a small genome, 120mb spread over 5 chromosomes with an estimated 20,000 genes, and having a small amount of interspersed DNA means that sequencing is very cost effective. It is also small in size, so it can be grown in a petri dish and is susceptible to mutations and agrobacterium, making it perfect for genetic experimentation. DNA sequencing of these organisms is already well underway, and in most cases the structural annotation is nearly complete. The relevance genome sequencing has to the field of development may not be apparent at first. Developmentalists have also been working on the model organisms for many years now and are now able to relate the genes involved in the developmental pathways to the genes sequenced on the genome. Since 1996 genetic database searching became a fruitful way to do genetic research (Bassett et al 1997), called research in silico. The use of model organisms provides an important stepping stone for the analysis of other organisms, refered to a comparative genomics. ...read more.


across phyla which they can then apply in conjuction with a phylogenetic tree to make predictions about organisms which they know little developmental biology about. Other advantages of genome sequences to developmetnal biology is that it facilitates not just the study of single genes but of networks of genes and families, for example the HOX cluster in vertebrates. This will lead to a better understanding of emergence (where the whole is greater than the parts) and give a more complete picture of the biology of an organism. Genome sequences also greatly aid the efficeincy of postional cloning in the search for the genes that play key roles in development and in some cases the effort has lead to reveal previously unkown counterparts of developmental pathways. The future of the genome sequencing programs has been outlined by the Gene Ontology group. Established in 1998 by members of fly, mouse and yeast database programs their memebership has grown in 200 to include work from arabidopsis and worm. They are working to develop a standarised for of molecular annotation that will contribute to the unification of genome sequences from different organisms. The need for standardisation is clear given the huge amount of data availible, otherwise searching across databases would become an impossible task. This is vital to the advancement of developmental sciences and biology in general as it will provide a firmer base for comparative studies. It will display similarities between genes that scientists can then draw their own inferences. ?? ?? ?? ?? - 1 - ...read more.

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Exceptional essay that goes above and beyond the remit of an A level Biology essay question. The question has been answered in great depth as well as reasonable breadth, showing a great deal of knowledge and understanding of the field ...

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Response to the question

Exceptional essay that goes above and beyond the remit of an A level Biology essay question. The question has been answered in great depth as well as reasonable breadth, showing a great deal of knowledge and understanding of the field of developmental genomics, the outstanding nature of this essay makes it ideal for researching the history of the field which is great if you want to show that you have done plenty of reading around the subject and achieve those higher grades. The examples of specific organisms used in the study of development shows excellent grasp of the topic and will always go down well with examiners, however it’s not necessary to quote specific scientific papers and their dates, just be able to mention their content as it’s not a test of your bibliographic skills.

Level of analysis

The writer has examined and highlighted various modern techniques such as assays used in genomics and managed to incorporate these to make their answer appear very well researched and thought out, this is very important as you want the examiner to be impressed by the technical vocabulary used but it also needs to make sense. It is clear that this candidate has done a great deal of independent study for reasons mentioned earlier on. However a little less focus on the general benefits of animal development studies and greater breadth encompassing human medical benefits and possible future discoveries would improve the well-roundedness of the essay which can show that you are able to link various different aspects of the biology curriculum.

Quality of writing

The essay flows very well and contains no issues with spelling, punctuation or grammar. It is important to always have an introduction and conclusion and don’t forget to link the last paragraph back to the start.

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Reviewed by tomcat1993 01/04/2012

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