More than a thousand researchers throughout the world contributed to the first project to sequence the human genome. Their task, which they successfully completed in 2003, was to decode the DNA from each of 23 pairs of human chromosomes. Two groups undertook this sequencing task. One large, multinational, publicly funded group adopted an approach called hierarchical sequencing. This group's work is better known as the Human Genome Project. The other group, at a privately funded company, took an approach called shotgun sequencing.

This animated tutorial describes the methods used by the two groups, but keep in mind that technologies have changed a lot since then. The Human Genome Project was relatively slow, expensive, and labor intensive. It took 13 years and $2.7 billion to sequence one genome! In contrast, at the time of this writing, current methods allow researchers to sequence a human genome in just a few days for several thousand dollars.


The following are just some of the interesting facts that we have learned about the human genome:

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Textbook Reference: Concept 12.1 There Are Powerful Methods for Sequencing Genomes and Analyzing Gene Products