I have a postgraduate degree in computer science, and I wish to undertake research in bioinformatics. I had chemistry but no biology in high school. I have read bioinformatics books like "biological sequence analysis" by durbin and "fundamental concepts of bioinformatics" by krane, etc. But I wish to read a comprehensive book on biology (genetics) that will help me undertake research in bioinformatics properly. I have been considering 2 books: "molecular biology of the cell" and "molecular biology of the gene". Are these books comprehensive enough? Please suggest some good books as I have almost no knowledge of biology at highschool or graduate levels.

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    $\begingroup$ Molecular biology of the cell is a really nice book.. $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    Jun 20, 2015 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ I concur with biogirl. MBotC was my introduction to molecular biology, and will give you a lot of background information. Of course, it shouldn't be your only resource (you wouldn't read just one book to learn a new programming language, for example), but it's a great place to start. $\endgroup$
    – MattDMo
    Jun 20, 2015 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ Molecular Biology of the Gene is a very good textbook. For molecular genetics, this is an excellent choice. Molecular Biology of the Cell is also a very good textbook (actually, you listed my two favourites) but, as the name suggests, it is more focused on molecular cell biology. That said, is does cover molecular genetics quite comprehensively; you can't really go wrong with either book. However, it's hard to say whether either of these are the best book for you. There's a difference between molecular genetics and, say, population genetics. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Jun 20, 2015 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ Also, if you have no experience with biology at all, you may want to try a more introductory textbook. Molecular Biology of the Cell is good at working its way from the basics to more complicated topics. On the other hand, Molecular Biology of the Gene assumes you have some working knowledge of molecular biology. $\endgroup$
    – canadianer
    Jun 21, 2015 at 0:01

1 Answer 1


Welcome to Biology and welcome to Biology.SE!

It is hard to answer such a question as the domains you describe are very vast.

If you want a book in an introductory book to biology, then you want to read this post and this post.

If you are more interested in population genetics and molecular evolution then this post will interest you. Still talking about evolution I'd like to attract your attention to this post for the second suggestion in the first answer: Yang, Computational molecular evolution

You'll probably want to have a look at the post A free book/resource for learning genetics?.

Book recommendations for algorithms used in evolutionary biology and Introductory book in genetics might be a post of interest as well.

Unfortunately I don't know any of the two books you cite so I can't quite give you advice for them. molecular biology of the cell is a very common book among first year biology. It sounds like a potential good reading for you. I know nothing about molecular biology of the gene except what I just read about it on Amazon.

I am hoping one will give you a better criticisms about very general books about molecular biology.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot for the info. Do you think I should read books on biochemistry, virology and immunology in addition to the above books you suggested, because I am finding most research in bioinformatics being focussed in these areas? $\endgroup$
    – akn12
    Jun 21, 2015 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ It very much depend if you're intending to work in those areas. You can't learn everything. I think that a basic understanding in molecular processes of the genetic expression is essential. I think that having a slight understanding of molecular evolution is essential as well (but I am maybe bias as we are getting closer to my field) and then I suppose that it is not necessarily worth knowing much about phylogenetic, immunology or virology if you don't intend working in those fields. There are many existing tools and database in bioinformatics, it is part of the formation to know them I guess. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 21, 2015 at 13:50

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