I was looking at the GC content percentages of few organisms. I also know calculating the GC content percentage. But, what I want to know is, what information would we get., let us suppose if human genome has 40% of GC in the genome.

Does it help us compare the number of genes between different species, for example, a bacteria has less GC content than human, so does it mean Human produce more genes than bacteria?

or Is it that the 40% of the genome,has coding regions in them and more genes are found in those regions? What is the number "40%" actually indicate us?

Please help me understanding the concept. Would be thankful your answers and suggested reading.

EDIT: My question is what does knowing percentage of GC content help us knowing? If the GC content is 40%, does it correlate to number of genes in the genome? Regards, Prakki Rama.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't understand your question. Do you want to know the function of the different GC-contents of different genomes? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Sep 8, 2014 at 8:24
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, Please check my edit. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2014 at 8:31

1 Answer 1


Interesting question. The GC-content seems to evolve over time and it also seems that the GC-content of coding regions is higher than for the surrounding non-coding regions (see reference 1). If there is a specific function for this higher GC-content or not is (if I understand this right) debated among the groups which do research in this field. Have a look at the references (and probably also their references) to decide on this:

  1. Both selective and neutral processes drive GC content evolution in the human genome.
  2. Integrating genomics, bioinformatics, and classical genetics to study the effects of recombination on genome evolution.
  3. Recombination Drives the Evolution of GC-Content in the Human Genome
  4. GC-Content Evolution in Mammalian Genomes: The Biased Gene Conversion Hypothesis
  5. Contrasting GC-content dynamics across 33 mammalian genomes: Relationship with life-history traits and chromosome sizes
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the references. So, is it that the number "40% GC content" is just a statistic to know about the organism and there is not much information associated with the number? $\endgroup$ Sep 9, 2014 at 2:26
  • $\begingroup$ As far as I understand it, yes. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Sep 9, 2014 at 5:37

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