Carl Zimmer was the first journalist known to have acquired the raw data of his own genome. He put together a three part series called “Game of Genomes”.
“Game of Genomes” has nothing to do with the popular Game of Thrones TV series. Instead, it is the result of Carl Zimmer’s quest to understand more about his genome. He spent months interviewing leading scientists about the latest in genome research. He ended up learning more about not just human genomes in general but also about himself.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines a genome as “an organism’s complete set of DNA, including all of its genes.” It goes on to say that each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism.
The National Genome Research Institute has more information. It points out that DNA is mad up of four chemical units: adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C). The A and T always pair together, and the C and G always pair together. The order of the As, Ts, Cs, and Gs determines the information that is encoded in that part of the DNA molecule.
Carl Zimmer’s “Game of Genomes” is broken into three seasons (with a varying number of episodes). Each one has interesting and colorful drawings and graphics that accompany the writing. The series is not done in video format and is not a podcast. The artwork makes gives you a visual break as you read each episode.
The first season is about how and why Carl Zimmer got his genome sequenced. It explains why he invited scientists to take a look at his genome and a geneticist to look at his body. He describes what happened when eight graduate students poured over his genome and then shared their findings with him at the same time.
The second season takes a look at non-coding DNA, the link between obesity and a gene called FTO, and a study that involved mice and “OBE1”. There is an episode on duplications and deletions, and another about genetic variants that might protect people from certain diseases.
The third season goes into the X and Y chromosomes, and what can be learned from them. This part explains a bit about how DNA tests can figure out where a person’s ancestors came from. Other episodes discuss genes that came from Neanderthal or Denisovan ancestors, and information about viral segments in DNA.
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