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Essay on The Tree of life: Genetic Sequencing and Evolutionary Biology

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The diversity and the unity of life are equally meaningful and striking aspects of our Earth (Dobzhansky, 1973). Although an astounding 1.2 million species have already been identified, it is estimated that another 8.7 million are yet, to be discovered and classified (Mora et al., 2011). By understanding what unifies us –our genes, our understanding of the organisms we share our planet with will continue to grow.
Genomic sequencing is the process of determining the precise order of nucleotides within a DNA molecule. It includes any method or technology that is used to determine the order of the four DNA bases – thiamine, adenine, guanine, and cytosine– in the strand of DNA (NHGRI, 2011). In each organism, these bases are arranged in a unique and specific sequence, and it is this sequence that is the genetic code of the organism. Genomic sequencing has had an impact on nearly every field of biological research including human genetics and genomics, plants and agriculture, microbes, medicine, viruses and infectious diseases, environmental genetics and evolutionary biology. By first examining the development of gene sequencing technology we will be able to view its role in evolutionary biology, its contribution to phylogenetics, and how it has changed our understanding of the biological tree of life.

Development of gene sequencing technology
The majority of scientific work in genetics and genomic sequencing has been done in the last 155 years. In 1859, Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species where he proposed evolution by natural selection. Evolution is the change of inherited characteristics of biological populations over successive generations.Yet, the principals of genetics required to explain how characters...


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...ry of Genetics and Sequencing on the Human Genome. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 77:773-782.

Mora, C., Tittensor, D.P., Adl, S., Simpson, A.G.B., Worm, B. (2011). How Many Species Are There on Earth and in the Ocean? PLoS Biology, 9:1-8.

National Human Genome Research Institute. (2011). DNA Sequencing. National Institute of Health, accessed frim https://www.genome.gov at 6:15pm March 16th.

Savolainen, V., Cowan, R.S., Volger, A. P., Roderick, G.K., Lane, R. (2005). Towards writing the encyclopaedia of life: an introduction to DNA barcoding. Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society of Biological Sciences.

Schuster, S.C. (2008). Next-generation sequencing transforms today’s biology. Nature Publishing Group, 5:16-18.

Zhaurova, K. (2008). Genomes of other organisms: DNA barcoding and metagenomics. Nature Education 1:1-89


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