Why Do We Need Bioinformatics:
Biological data are being produced at a phenomenal rate.
- As of August 2000, the GenBank repository of nucleic acid sequences contained 8,214,000 entries.
- The SWISS-PROT database of protein sequences contained 88,166.On average, these databases are doubling in size every 15 months.
On average, these databases are doubling in size every 15 months.
In addition,since the publication of the H. influenza genome, complete sequences for over 40 organisms have been released, ranging from 450 genes to over 100,000. Add to this the data from the myriad of related projects that study gene expression, determine the protein structures encoded by the genes, and detail how these products interact with one another, and we can begin to imagine the enormous quantity and variety of information that is being produced.
As a result of this surge in data, computers have become indispensable to biological research. Such an approach is ideal because of the ease with which computers can handle large quantities of data and probe the complex dynamics observed in nature.
Bio-Informatics, the subject of the current review, is often defined as the application of computational techniques to understand and organize the information associated with biological macromolecules. This unexpected union between the two subjects is largely attributed to the fact that life itself is an information technology; an organism's physiology is largely determined by its genes, which at its most basic can be viewed as digital information.
At the same time, there have been major advances in the technologies that supply the initial data; Anthony Ker lavage of Celera recently cited that an experimental laboratory can produce over 100 gigabytes of data a day with ease. This incredible processing power has been matched by developments in computer technology; the most important areas of improvements have been in the CPU, disk storage and Internet, allowing faster computations, better data storage and revolutionized the methods for accessing and exchanging data.