Science Questions

Conserving for future genetic resources?

Sun, 28th Oct 2012

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Question

Dirk Dombrowski, Facebook asked:

We should definitely conserve everything that we can. Mankind is responsible for the biggest loss of species on mother Earth. We don't know, yet, what will be required to ensure our survival in the future. Thus we should be having a maximum of reserves within the gene pool to be able to react on collapsing eco systems.

Answer

Gareth -   I think the coming approach now with this capacity to sequence at huge levels is to just do all the DNA in the habitat and whilst you can also see what organisms are there, you also are looking at individual genes and pathways.  And thatís going to explore huge biotechnological potential.  

Ben -   So, itís not just looking at interesting DNA, but actually, how all of these fit together, also, the epigenetic factors, the things that control the expression of different genes.

Gareth -   Yes.  There's a fair bit of work to do having done that as well because you got to put them together into genome sequences and work out the genetic pathways that make these novel pathways work.  There is huge scope there.  I think itís going to be quite transformative of our knowledge of the processes that happen in these natural ecosystems.

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