The Wikipedia article on phi X 174 states that:

The phi X 174 (or φX174) bacteriophage is a single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) virus that infects Escherichia coli, and the first DNA-based genome to be sequenced.

But, the article in Wikipedia on Whole Genome Sequencing states:

The first whole genome to be sequenced was of the bacterium Haemophilus Influenzae

So as bacterial genomes are DNA-based, I am confused as to which organism was the first DNA-based one to be sequenced.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Did you follow up the references for the two claims? Which is the oldest? And are you sure there was no qualification to the second claim. You can surely answer this question yourself. In any case, you should remember Wikipedia articles are written by anyone. There is no central organization and the only checking is that done by people who are interested. There are other sources of information on the internet. $\endgroup$ – David Sep 18 '20 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ Another thing to consider is that some scientists (and lay people) do not consider viruses to be true "organisms" as they are incapable of reproduction on their own and therefore not truly alive. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Sep 18 '20 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ @David yes, but my point was about which was the first organism sequenced - some people may have left previous phage work off the list because they didn't consider them to be organisms or have proper genomes, especially if it's ssDNA. I don't know, I'm just speculating. $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Sep 18 '20 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ I shouldn't have, but it was simpler to give you the answer with links to my sources. $\endgroup$ – David Sep 19 '20 at 22:20
  • $\begingroup$ @David, Thank you so much for the answer and I am extremely sorry for so much inconvenience that I caused you . I will try my best to learn from my mistake. Again, thanks a lot for the help. $\endgroup$ – Cerebral cortex Sep 19 '20 at 23:17

Expanding the question to the history of the sequencing of genes and genomes in general, I present a timeline taken from a review by Giani et al., entitled “Long walk to genomics: History and current approaches to genome sequencing and assembly”.

Gene and Genome sequencing timeline

The graphic shows how the size of sequenced genes and genomes has increased since 1965, which reflects developments in sequencing technology that are discussed in this and other articles which may be more accessible. It should be noted that the more modern methodologies are not intrinsically more accurate than earlier ones, but can be employed more rapidly.

I see no value in the “Guinness Book of Records” approach to biology, but to satisfy the poster, the genome of bacteriophage φX174 was the first DNA genome to be sequenced (1977), and that of H.influenzae the first bacterial genome to be sequenced (1995). But the RNA genome of my old friend bacteriophage MS2, was the first genome to be sequenced (1976).

And the first human chromosome to be completely sequenced is not on the graphic as it was only published in Nature a few weeks ago (July 2020) — chromosome X.


For the record, the quotation from the whole genome sequencing article is actually a caption for a (gratuitous) image of the bacterium, is unqualified, and, thus, is incorrect. But when reading Wikipedia articles it should be born in mind that they are written by people like you and me. Anyone can edit them, and nobody need check them or correct them. Peer-reviewed papers can also have mistakes, but where they are of this type, the referees should pick them up. (But by the time you read this I will have edited the Wikipedia article.)

  • $\begingroup$ I understood the part of Wikipedia, thank you for suggestion and your answer helped me to clear all my related doubts within me. And I am truly sorry for so much inconvenience and I got your point on representing question(Not to use Wikipedia as a reference). Though my question was a weird approach to biology because its not going to come anywhere, I felt satisfied that I am clear with my knowledge because of all help. Thank you so much. Your answer helped me a lot in various aspects. Thank you. $\endgroup$ – Cerebral cortex Sep 20 '20 at 7:25

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.