While strides are being made to understand the human genome and other genomes, researchers cannot just look at a genome and say what creature it comes from and what that creature is like, writes Ed Yong at the BBC. There are a number of hurdles, not the least of which are the gaps that are found in many genomes and the need to better understand the function of regulatory regions in the genome.
"And even if we have all this information — every gene, protein structure, and regulatory sequence — we’d still need to figure out how it all works together, and how it interacts with its environment," Yong writes.
However, he notes that some researchers are attempting to simulate just that, though with simpler genomes than that of humans, and that this could be a "way forward — the dawn of virtual biology. You could sequence a genome, construct a model or simulation, compare that to the real organism, work out the flaws in the model, and rectify those flaws with further experiments. Rinse and repeat," Yong adds.