Dictionary > Genome


noun, plural: genomes
(1) The complete set of genetic material in an organism
(2) The total genetic content in one set of chromosomes
According to Oxford Dictionary, the term genome is a portmanteau of the words gene and chromosome.1 However, Hans Winkler, a German botany professor, is the first to use the term in 1920.2 In molecular biology and genetics, the term pertains to the complete set of genetic material in an organism. The genome of eukaryotes is contained in a single, haploid set of chromosomes. The genome of bacteria is contained in a single chromosome whereas the genome of viruses is in the DNA or RNA.
The human genome is made up of approximately 35000 genes, or three billion chemical base pairs. The Human Genome Project, which was an international collaborative project from 1990 to 2003, was intended to identify the genes and the sequences of chemical base pairs in human DNA. However, the project sequenced only the euchromatic regions of the genome and not the heterochromaic regions in centromeres and telomeres.

Related term(s):

  • Genome mapping
  • Genome bacterial
  • Genome chromosomal
  • Genome fungal
  • Genome human
  • Genome viral
  • Genome shuffling
  • genomics


1 Genome. Oxford Dictionary (Online). Retrieved from http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american-english/genome.

2 Winkler, H. L. (1920). Verbreitung und Ursache der Parthenogenesis im Pflanzen- und Tierreiche. Jena: Verlag Fischer.

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