Omnigenomics.

Sometimes it is helpful to have a catchy word to describe one’s type of research. I think that’s why “omics” words are so popular — they encapsulate a complex combination of approaches (usually something + genomics, or something-more-than-genomics) in a memorable way that immediately conveys the gist of the field. “Metagenomics” is a good example — it’s the study of a larger assemblage of genomes than just one, usually from an environmental sample of microbes. “Proteiomics” is another, or “transcriptomics”. Of course, this can get out of hand (see here). However, I think the study of genome size (which predates molecular genetics, let alone genomics) deserves a catchy moniker. The problem is, I haven’t really come up with one in the past, so I just end up saying “I study the total amount of DNA in different species of animals, which includes genes and all the other sequences, most of which are non-coding and…” — well, you get the idea.

People like me study entire genomes — every component included, be it gene or pseudogene or repeat or transposable element. We also are interested, not in a few model organisms, but in everything (people usually stare blankly when, to the question “which animals do you work on?”, I reply “all of them”). But what to call such a discipline?

Proposed neologism: “Omnigenomics”

Etymology: Latin “omnis” (all or everything) + genomics (study of genomes)

Sample usage: “What do you do?” / “Omnigenomics” / “What’s that?” / “I study the total amount of DNA in different species of animals, which includes genes and all the other sequences, most of which are non-coding and…”

(The alternative Greek version, “pangenomics”, is already being used and sounds way less cool).

(Yes, I note the irony of getting a “worst new omics word award” from a blog called phylogenomics.blogspot.com!)


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