List of chromosomes » Chromosome 1

The human genome odyssey

Slide 1 – SF
Slide 2 – SF

Man’s past told with an alphabet of 4 letters

Hidden in this 3 billion letter text are the genes which are important for our cells to develop, to function and to multiply. In a nutshell: genes are necessary for life. The whole point of sequencing the human genome is to establish the succession of letters so that the underlying messages can be deciphered.

Why sequence the human genome?

Understanding the information which is held within our genome will not only help to shed light on how life is made but will also help to predict illnesses and design new drugs. Currently, we are only at the very beginning of its elucidation.


The role of bioinformatics

Current sequencing techniques can only determine short sequences of 35 to 400 letters at a time. And the human genome has 3 billion… In order to restore the complete text, these short sequences have to be placed end to end – and it is no small feat. To do this, scientists use high performance bioinformatics tools. The assembled sequences are then stored in databanks, and made available via the internet.



the story

1975 Development of DNA sequencing techniques

1998 Sequencing by a public international consortium begins. At the same time, a private firm, Celera Genomics, begins its own sequencing.

2000 Official announcement of a first draft of the human genome.

2001 Publication of the draft by both the public consortium and Celera Genomics. Celera Genomics admits having used data from the public consortium to go faster…

2003 Official announcement of the final version of the human genome sequence, which becomes freely accessible on the internet. The sequences is of very high quality despite a few inevitable ‘typos’.

This ‘reference human genome sequence’ is being updated on a regular basis.



And today?

The genomes of tens of thousands of organisms have either been sequenced or are in the course of being sequenced! Thanks to advances in technology, a person’s genome can be sequenced in less than a week!

Why sequence other genomes?

Understanding the information held in the genomes of other organisms – from bacteria to plants – allows scientists not only to discover more fascinating aspects of biology, but also to imagine possible applications in the fields of medicine or agriculture, for example.