Bioinformatics is a multi disciplinary subject. Though only about a decade old, it has become very important for the growth of biosciences, biotechnology, and the economic prosperity of nations. The following are the well-identified subdivisions of Bioinformatics:
a) Molecular Bioinformatics, b) Cellular and sub-cellular Bioinformatics including epigenetics, and neuro Bioinformatics, c) Orgasmic and community Bioinformatics, d) Medical Bioinformatics including metabolic pathways, e) Species Diversity Bioinformatics including behaviour, evolution and the effect of pollutants on higher as well lower species.
Bioinformatics may therefore be defined as the area/ branch of information technology that deals with all aspects ofbiological systems and associated scientific and technological information/data, including the traditional knowledge systems, with the aim of conservation and sustainable utilisation that converts bioresources into economic wealth. It thus involves information pertaining to biological resources, inventory documentation, acquisition, processing, storage, distribution, analysis and interpretation, combining the tools and techniques of mathematics, computer science and biology with the aim of understanding the biological significance of a variety of data.
Protein analysis, cell metabolism, biodiversity, biotechnology, downstream processing in chemical engineering, genetic engineering and vaccine designs and diagnostic kits are some of the important areas in which Bioinformatics constitutes an integral component. Bioinformatics relates itself with different entities. It may be classified on the basis of the level of investigations, species under study and different body conditions. Thus one can talk about DNA bioinformatics, mRNA bioinformatics, protein bioinformatics, cellular bioinformatics, microbial bioinformatics, parasite bioinformatics, human bioinformatics, physiological bioinformatics, pathological bioinformatics and developmental bioinformatics.
Current research has identified biotechnology to be the fastest growing sector of production technology. Further advances in this sector will depend quite a lot upon the progress of Bioinformatics and hence there is a great emphasis on Bioinformatics the world over.
Bioinformatics has acquired great importance due to its recent applications in the vast mount of data generated in the Genome sequence projects. The greatest achievement of Bioinformatics methods, the Human Genome Project, is currently being completed. The target of decoding the three billion base pairs of the human DNA has become achievable only through the use of various innovative techniques and methods evolved by Bioinformatics scientists.
The nature and priorities of Bioinformatics research and applications are changing in several ways:
• Particular conclusions about species and general ones about evolution can be drawn. This kind of science is often referred to as comparative genomics.
• Large-scale ways of identifying gene functions and associations (for example yeast two-hybrid methods) are growing in significance and with them the accompanying Bioinformatics of functional genomics.
• There will soon be a general shift in emphasis (in the area of sequence analysis especially) from genes themselves to gene products, which will lead to attempts to:
- catalogue the activities and characterize interactions between all gene products (proteomics) and
- crystallise and or predict the structures of all proteins (structural genomics) [see http://bioinformatics.org/ faq/].
The field of bioinformatics can be examined from data-centered view that serves to recapitulate the major phases of the generation of bioinformatics data, or technology-centered point of view.
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