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By genome do we mean a consensus sequence of DNA or a set of sequences that ideally captures all possible variations?

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closed as off-topic by David, Armatus, The Last Word, kmm, James Feb 7 '18 at 16:39

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Like with everything, people mean different things in different contexts when talking about the genome.

You can see this in different levels:

  • genome of a cell: the entire genetic material contained within a cell
  • genome of an organism: the entire genetic material contained in an organism. For an multicellular organism, this could refer to the average genome between cells. However, technology does not allow us to access this average of all cells. In more practical situations, this could refer to the reconstructed genome taken from cells in the mouth or blood.
  • genome of a species: the genome of an individual taken to be representative of a species. In more practical terms, this can be the genome of an individual that was captured and sequenced by humans. In the case of humans, several individuals donated their DNA towards the sequencing of THE human genome
  • metagenome of an environment: the set of genetic information found in an environment, e.g. the metagenome of a human intestine, the metagenome of a river, etc.

Graph genomes are on the rise for species genomes and they will allow for the inclusion of genetic variability between individuals.

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