From ArticleWorld

Bioinformatics is a field of science that utilizes techniques from mathematical related disciplines as well as computer science to solve biological problems. Bioinformatics is also known as computational biology however a distinct difference exists between these two fields. Bioinformatics concentrates on algorithm development while computational biology focuses on hypothesis testing. There is however a lot of overlap in these two as they both use mathematical methods to extract information from noisy data, produced by biological means.

Important areas of research

An important area of research in bioinformatics is sequence analysis. With the continually growing amount of data on DNA sequences it has become impractical to continue with the manual analysis of these sequences. Computer programs are now utilized in the sequencing of DNA. Another major area of research is gene annotation or gene finding. This process is the marking of genes and other features to determine the function of the genes. There is now gene annotation software that performs this process. Bioinformatics has also been invaluable to the field of evolutionary biology as it has assisted in tracing the evolution of large amounts of organisms by measuring DNA alterations, comparing entire genomes and using programs to model populations to predict the systems viability over time.

Additional areas of research

Some additional areas of research include:

  • Biodiversity measurements carried out using computer simulations.
  • Gene expression analysis utilized in the identification of genes that cause disorders.
  • Regulation analysis.
  • Protein expression analysis.
  • Analysis of cancer mutations.
  • Structure prediction.

Software tools

The software utilized in bioinformatics is continually being upgraded. Today, software is available as free/open source material on the internet to make bioinformatics simpler. One of the most popular pieces of software used is called BLAST. This is an algorithm that searches a large database of protein and DNA sequences.