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Planet Earth

Numbers: Genomics, From the Human Genome Project to the Fish With the Giant Genome

By Jeremy JacquotAugust 6, 2010 5:00 AM


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3 Billion Approximate length of the human genome in base pairs (letters of the DNA sequence). The Human Genome Project, launched in 1990, produced the first complete map of our DNA, covering 99 percent of the genome at its completion in 2003. The project cost about $2.7 billion (in 1991 dollars), roughly $1 per base pair.

$48,000 Price to have your entire genome sequenced today by the San Diego-based company Illumina. In January it announced a new system that will be able to sequence two full human genomes for $10,000 each and do the job in about a week. A $10 million Archon X Prize awaits the first group that can sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days for less than $10,000 each.

423 Number of genes in the human genome that have been implicated in cancer, according to the Sanger Institute’s Cancer Gene Census. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 10,000 human diseases result from changes to a single gene.

3 Million The number of base pairs that differ from one person to another, according to the Human Genome Project. All individual human variation amounts to just one-tenth of 1 percent of the entire genome. The FBI maintains a database of more than 7.8 million individual DNA profiles.

5,831 Number of genome sequencing projects registered with the Genomes OnLine Database as of late 2009. 4,172 are devoted to bacteria, 443 to fungi, 233 to plants, 37 to primates, 84 to other mammals, 41 to fish, and 8 to birds.

160,000 Number of base pairs in the smallest known cellular genome, belonging to the bacterium Carsonella ruddii, which lives symbiotically inside insects called psyllids (it does not have the genes required to survive on its own). The largest known genome, at 133 billion base pairs, belongs to the marbled lungfish.

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