We are a mosaic of genomes

We are a mosaic of slightly different genomesWe are a mosaic of genomes

Humans are good at recognizing patterns. We find pleasure in sorting complexity in cross-word and logic, and jigsaw puzzles. Artists are intrigued by this ability, and some take it as their muse. Like the underground mosaic masterworks designed for the New York City Subway.

Especially intriguing are the glass mosaic portraits by Chuck Close. Meticulous detail, luminous surfaces, and small fragments make up the twelve large-scale portraits at the 86th Street Subway Station.

A patchwork of small pieces making a unified composition defines mosaic art. The definition also applies to our biology, for we are a mosaic of genomes — slightly different variations making an original composition.

Your one genome comes from two. You get 23 chromosomes from Mom (half her genome) and 23 from Dad (half his). With mitochondrial DNA from your mother, they combine in a new way to make your one-of-a-kind genome. We can “carry” more than one genome — making us a mosaic of slightly different genomes. Some examples:

Biome. All organisms have a genome, even simple, single-cell creatures like bacteria. You have a microbiome made of trillions of bacteria living on your skin, in your mouth, gut, and intestines. Each one has a genome.

Baby genome. Genetic tests can identify and analyze a baby’s genome while still inside the mother’s womb. So Mom carries, temporarily, two genomes.

And then there’s cancer.

Read more about the study in the open-access article in Nature Research Journal titled, “The human body is a mosaic of different genomes.”