Comparative Genomics

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Abstract

Comparative genomics is a science in its infancy. It has been driven by a huge increase in freely available genome-sequence data, and the development of computer techniques to allow whole-genome sequence analyses. Other approaches, which use hybridization as a method for comparing the gene content of related organisms, are rising alongside these more bioinformatic methods. All these approaches have been pioneered using bacterial genomes because of their simplicity and the large number of complete genome sequences available. The aim of bacterial comparative genomics is to determine what genotypic differences are important for the expression of particular traits (e.g., antibiotic resistance, virulence, or host preference). The benefits of such studies will be a deeper understanding of these phenomena; the possibility of exposing novel drug targets, including those for antivirulence drugs; and the development of molecular techniques that reveal patients who are infected with virulent organisms so that health care resources can be allocated appropriately. With more and more genome sequences becoming available, the rise of comparative genomics continues apace.