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Yeast: one cell, one reference sequence, many genomes?

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The genome of Saccharomyces cerevisiae – brewer’s or baker’s yeast – was the first eukaryotic genome to be sequenced in 1996. The identity of that yeast genome has been not just a product of sequencing, but also of its use after sequencing and particularly of its mobilization in scientific literature. We ask “what is the yeast genome?” as an empirical question by investigating “the yeast genome” as a discursive entity. Analyzing publications that followed sequencing points to several “yeast genomes” existing side-by-side: genomes as physical molecules, digital texts, and a historic event. Resolving this unified-yet-multiple “genome” helps make sense of contemporary developments in yeast genomics such as the synthetic yeast project, in which apparently “the same” genome occupies multiple roles and locations, and points to the utility of examining specific non-human genomes independent of the Human Genome Project.
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Keywords: discourse analysis; genomics; yeast

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Science, Technology, and Innovation Studies, University of Edinburgh, Chisholm House, High School Yards, Edinburgh, Scotland

Publication date: October 2, 2019

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