Have you ever given up on love and resorted to getting a dog because they understand you best? We’ve all been there. What’s impressive is that the compatibility between man and dog goes beyond puppy eyes. Scientists have sequenced the dog genome and found a large number of genetic similarities to the human genome.
What is a Genome?
A genome is all the DNA sequences in an organism. The DNA serves as a blueprint that creates a specific organism. Essentially, your DNA and my DNA specify that we are humans; while my pet dog’s DNA makes him a dog. With the large variety of species on earth, one would think that the DNA would vary significantly from one species to another. That is not the case. Many species DNA is more than 90% identical! For example, chimpanzees are 98% identical to humans and mice are 93% identical to humans.
Exons and Introns
With a so much identical DNA, why don’t we look more similar? This phenomenon occurs because, even though we have a lot of similar DNA, it is not all used. There are large portions of DNA that do not code for anything that we know of yet. These portions are called introns. The parts that are used are called exons. These exons are used to make proteins that compose the entire body. Therefore, a lot of genetic similarities are found in the intron regions, while the exons make us all look different.
Scientists have successfully sequenced the entire dog genome through a method called shotgun sequencing. This method involves blasting the DNA into small parts, much like how a shotgun blasts things apart, then sequencing each fragment. Afterward, they use the overlapping regions to put the pieces back together much like how you would put together a puzzle. Scientists commonly utilize this method because it is a quick and efficient solution to sequencing large genomes. Through this, they found that the dog genome is 93% identical to the human genome. This discovery is important because it allows us to see the genetic differences and similarities between different dog species as well as in humans. It also allows us to identify specific parts in DNA that are responsible for specific traits and diseases that are common in both species.
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Resources: https://research.nhgri.nih.gov/dog_genome/, https://genetics.thetech.org/ask-a-geneticist/dog-vs-human-dna, https://genome.cshlp.org/content/15/12/1706.full, https://www.genome.gov/25019917/the-power-of-comparison-unleashing-the-dog-genome/, https://education.seattlepi.com/animals-share-human-dna-sequences-6693.html
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