Over a decade ago, as the Human Genome Project completed its mapping of the entire human genome, hopes ran high that we would rapidly be able to use our knowledge of human genes to tackle many inherited diseases and understand what makes us unique among animals. But things didn't turn out that way. For a start we turned out to have far fewer genes than originally thought - just over 20,000, the same sort of number as a fruit fly or worm. What's more, the proportion of DNA consisting of genes coding for proteins was a mere 2 percent. So, was the rest of the genome accumulated "junk"? Things have changed since those early heady days of the Human Genome Project. But the emerging picture is, if anything, far more exciting. In this book John Parrington explains the key features that are coming to light - some, such as the results of the international ENCODE program, still much debated and controversial in their scope. He gives an outline of the deeper genome, involving layers of regulatory elements controlling and coordinating the switching on and off of genes; the impact of its 3D geometry; the discovery of a variety of new RNAs playing critical roles; the epigenetic changes influenced by the environment and life experiences that can make identical twins different and be passed on to the next generation; and the clues coming out of comparisons with the genomes of Neanderthals, as well as that of chimps, about the development of our species. We are learning more about ourselves and about the genetic aspects of many diseases. But in its complexity, flexibility, and ability to respond to environmental cues, the human genome is proving to be far more subtle than we ever imagined.
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Great Scientific Writing/ Wrong Narrator
Yes, immediately. The narrator-John Lee- in my view, doomed this presentation from the start by using an unnecessary theatrical style with glottal perturbances extremely of -point for this type of work. Heres an example. Take a multi-syllable word : shout the first syllable as if on stage, then lightly whisper the next two at high speed. Do this over and over all throughout the book. You get the point. I found myself hitting the reverse button time after time to try to catch those faintly whispered nothings after recuperating from the bling of the first syllable blasted like a sharp report. It's true that the American ear is often not adapted to the nuances of the mother tongue, but am I correct in sensing a lot of Scottish churn charged up with theatrical training here? It doesn't matter- I'll not follow him in the future except perhaps on the Shakespeare classics front if that ever happens.One more vexing verbal twitch to mention, and this stems from the authorship: the most overused word in the entire treatise is "however". You'll hear it shouted, hurled in a snippish manner, used to lead off hundreds of sentences, over and over and eventually this became a form of verbal torture. Surely there are more varied ways to introduce sentences.However, this would have been a great book otherwise, however.
Disregarding the interruptive delivery discussed above, John Parrington ably constructed a plausible explanation of current views on the subject and nicely integrated historical context all the way along. I have a deep background in biological sciences so the terms and concepts were easily understood, though new in so many cases for me. Just learning the dynamics of histones made it all worth it. That was refreshing, and yes I'm kind of a science nut.
Kevin Pariseau, unequivocally
I can't imagine how this could be presented as a movie unless as an educational theme with explanatory three- dimensional diagrams and Uma Thurman acting it out in some Sci-fi co-opt.
If you're prepared to bear up to what was, in my opinion, a disruptive narrator I would recommend this book highly. The information therein is solid gold. You may come away with a revised view of genetics and biological evolution. I know I did. I would hope that Dr. Parrington will quickly write on other topics in the future along these lines, as well as to further expand on today's current vital quest to dig more deeply into genomics.
Genome-Just what is it? Described and more
Well written history of Genetics & Molecular Biology, detailing the important events and key people, explained at a basic biology level with a pleasant narration. Throughout the book, technology and scientific advancement are discussed which leads to what we know and more importantly what is not known and what the future may bring. I was disappointed that the book did not discuss the latest new big breakthrough in gene editing, CRISPR. I think this is important enough to have delayed publishing of this book or addressing through a late edition in an epilogue. If this book interested you, you will want to followup on CRISPR. Be sure to get the free accompanying figure as a PDF file by using the link at the time of purchase.