Decoding life

Published: Sunday 31 July 1994

-- To understand the complexity of life, biologists are busy deciphering its language, encoded in structures called chromosomes. Two years ago, scientists announced the first-ever map of how the genetic script -- a sequence of chemical molecules that make up the life-giving DNA -- of chromosome III of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae were sequenced. Now, the same group of scientists -- a consortium of 35 European laboratories -- has pried open chromosome XI of the same organism (Nature, Vol 369, No 6479).

The new chromosome contains genes -- a meaningful array of genetic letters -- that bear no resemblance to any of the previously discovered genes of either yeast or any other organism. And some of the genes found mimic those seen in humans. Scientists hope that the new decoded chromosome will throw more light on life's mysterious ways.

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