"The resulting libraries of gene sequences allow CDC and other laboratories to compare the genes of currently circulating influenza viruses with the genes of older influenza viruses and viruses used in vaccines. Through this process of comparing genetic sequences, called genetic characterization, CDC can make informed assumptions regarding.."

I'm unsure what genetic characterization means. What do the researchers actually here?

  • $\begingroup$ I've made some edits to clarify your question a bit - are these suitable edits? $\endgroup$ – rg255 Feb 4 '16 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ I think what I'm trying to ask is what genetic characterization really means. Is it simply a comparison of genetic sequences to detect when they are different? The CDC use of the term doesn't seem to apply in the context of genomics papers that I read but I could simply be mistaken (I am not a biologist, rather a software engineer trying to understand how the phrase is being used). $\endgroup$ – justincc Feb 4 '16 at 16:57

There's no technical definition for "genetic characterization". It is simply a phrase used by authors based on the normal meaning of the words: (1) having to do with genes and heredity, and (2) describing the essential character. Of course the bounds of the genetics and the essence of their nature are entirely in the eye of the author and reader, so no particular definition applies across all papers in genomics (or in other fields).

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  • $\begingroup$ True. The word characterization doesn't really have a defined meaning, the implication is that you've observed something and described the significance and meaning of what you've observed - so the 'essential character' here presumably refers to the likely consequences of change in the virus' genotype to it's phenotype. $\endgroup$ – Dermot Harnett May 5 '16 at 15:12

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