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Humans have approximately 21,000 genes in our genomes—the set of genetic information in an organism. But do we really need every gene we have?

Velez_Jessica_2016-2 Jessica Velez, a graduate research assistant at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, together with colleagues from Kansas State University and the Universidad de Córdoba, explains how diverse genetic processes work in a variety of organisms for The Conversation.

Scientists previously thought every gene in an organism’s genome was essential for survival because humans have little variation in the size of individuals’ genomes. However, studies using animals with smaller, streamlined genomes have proven that idea to be untrue.

What does it take to streamline a genome? Does the organism cut genes over time and hope for the best, or does a series of processes compensate for the loss of these genes? If researchers can understand how some of these small genomes work so efficiently, they can better understand how human genomes function as well. Read the full article on The Conversation.


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Lindsey Owen (865-974-6375,