Genomics: Unravelling the mystery of life!

You may not realize it, but you probably already know a little about genomics. Perhaps you’ve heard of DNA and genes in the media. Maybe you’re aware that you have inherited many of your traits from your ancestors. These traits are determined by our genes, which are organized within our cells into chromosomes. That’s what genomics is all about…and more!


What is genomics?

Genomics is the study of the entire set of genes found in living things, including humans, plants, animals and even viruses. More specifically, it refers to the analysis of the genomes of organisms, both anatomically (sequences and organization) and physiologically (expression and regulation).

The genome, a combination of the words “gene” and “chromosome,” is the complete set of hereditary instructions in each cell of every living thing that are needed by the organism for its development and functioning. It is similar to an instruction manual on how cells work.

ensemble du materiel genetique


Livre chromosone 

The genome is the set of genetic material:


Our genome -> The book
Our chromosomes -> The chapters of the book
Our genes -> The sentences in the book
Our DNA -> The letters forming the words and sentences
A mutation -> A typographical error
A variation -> A spelling variation


If the genome were a book, it would be the equivalent of 800 dictionaries. Yet all this information is contained in the microscopic nucleus of a tiny cell!

The genomes of almost all living things are made up of DNA. Since the language of DNA is common to practically all living beings, knowledge of one organism helps us better understand other organisms, from plants to animals, including humans. This makes genomics a strong unifying force to gain better insight into a wide range of questions about life.

Genomics: Drawing the genetic map

From time immemorial, humans have used maps to travel. The first maps were crude, presenting only the main landmarks. But as new territories were discovered, they became more detailed, until one day the entire land surface of the Earth had been mapped. Genomics researchers are working on mapping living things. They too explore uncharted territories, in this case genomes.



Genomics, health, the environment and our future!

Browse to learn more about the potential applications of genomics in areas that affect you directly:

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