Runner Up: Yeast on the rise

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Science  20 Dec 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5295, pp. 1988
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5295.1988g

The short history of the booming field of gene sequencing is already scattered with milestones, but 1996 marks a major landmark: the first full sequence of a eukaryote, the baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Researchers now have sequence data for all the genes needed to run a yeast cell, data that will help unravel the basic genetic tool kit for eukaryotic processes such as cell division and chromosome organization. And the sequence of 12 million bases, containing 6000 genes arranged in 16 chromosomes, is freely available.

The 7-year, $30 million project began as something of a European cottage industry among 37 laboratories but mushroomed into a global collaboration of more than 100 groups, who completed the task last April—much sooner than anticipated. As predicted, the team found one gene in every 2000 bases, but the sequence reveals a surprising degree of redundancy: Often several genes appear to have similar sequences. Also, about 25% of the gene sequences were of unknown function—although genomic analysis has already begun (see p. 2069). Indeed, European Union scientists are now coordinating a systematic exploration of each gene's function and hope to finish in 2000.


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  • N. Williams, “Yeast Genome Sequence Ferments New Research,” Science, 26 April 1996, p. 481.


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