This was a book that I was sent by Oxford University Press to review for them as part of their student review panel (yes OUP actually listens to the opinions of students not to mention supporting student societies!). I am writting this review from scratch without any reference to my previous review.
Review: Introduction to Genomics (Second Edition) by Arthur M. Lesk
The second edition was published earlier this year, and I kinda wish that I had it back when I did my Animal Genetics modules. When it came to genetics there is little difference between the techniques across species (other than differences in the Genome/Genes of course), and it is a rapidly expanding area of research. Within the field of genetics there is the study of the Genome, which is the complete set of genetic material in an organism.
When I started I had no clue as genetics hadn’t been an area I’d looked at before, I managed to pass the module grasping the basics. Mendels Law, Punnet Squares, Dominance, Transcription, Translation, mRNA, tRNA and DNA. Whilst I had the understanding of what and how they worked I lacked the understanding of the why they worked. This book therefore was a welcome opportunity for me to try and rectify this.
The first few chapters give an introduction to genomics, how genes are regulated and expressed, some real life examples of genetic disease and the Mapping, Sequencing, Annotation and various databases and databanks for genome research.
Then it looks at Comparative Genomics, or how genomes differ. This is where I believe this book gets really intersting as it examines the phylogenic tree for the evolution of life, has comparison tables for different viruses, and covers Influenza and Avian flu in more detail. It then goes on to examine recombinant viruses and how viruses can be constructed as a vector to introduce foriegn proteins into a cell. It then talks about evolution and genomic change including pattern matching and genetic engineering.
The Genomes of both Prokaryotes and Genomes of Eukaryotes are then examine in two seperate chapters which is fascinating and covers Archaea, Bacteria, DNA from extinct birds and high-throughput sequencing of mammoth DNA. This leads perfectly into a chapter on Human Genomics and looks at personal identification and anthropology.
The last 3 chapters get really sciency with Microarrays and Transcriptomics,Proteomics and Systems Biology which are different subfields within Genomics. These are explained in the same manner making these chapters the perfect introduction to theise fields.
In terms of the content there is a lot of colourful diagrams to illustrate key points, boxes to go into further detail of a topic and relate it to the real world. Ethical issues all get highlighted into their own boxes and there are easy to use tables throughout. In addition something I really liked was the way they extended the learning from each chapter At the end of each chapter there is a list of Recommended Reading with books and journals, followed by a set of exercises, problems and something called “Weblems” which are designed to give practice with the tools used for research in the field.
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This is a book I would recommend that anyone starting genetics or in need of refresher of the subject read. It starts with the basics assuming no knowledge and leaves you with a solid understanding of the techniques and theory of the subject and more!