BIOINFORMATICS – AN INTRODUCTION
Bioinformatics is the combination of biology and information technology. It is a branch of science which deals with the computer-based analysis of large biological data sets .
The term bioinformatics first came into use in 1990’s and was originally synonymous with the management and analysis of DNA, RNA and protein sequence data. Computational tools for sequence analysis have been available since the 1960’s but this was a minority interest until advances in sequencing technology led to the rapid expansion in the number of stored sequences in databases such as GenBank. Now the term has expanded to incorporate many other types of biological data, for example protein structures, gene expression profiles and protein interactions. Each of these areas requires its own set of databases, algorithms and statistical methods.
To provide another definition:
Bioinformatics is conceptualizing biology in terms of macromolecules (in the sense of physical-chemistry) and then applying “informatics” techniques (derived from disciplines such as applied maths, computer science, and statistics) to understand and organize the information associated with these molecules, on a large-scale.
The development of bioinformatics techniques has allowed an expansion of biological analysis in two dimensions, depth and breadth. Depth defines the parameter in which maximum information about the particular gene or the protein can be provided. In the other case i.e. depth, multiple genes, proteins or other biological matter is compared and the variability or the similarity between each of them is determined.
The aims of bioinformatics are three-fold:
- Bioinformatics organizes data in a way that allows researchers to access existing information and to submit new entries as they are produced.
- The second aim is to develop tools and resources that aid in the analysis of data.
- To use these tools to analyze the data and interpret the results in a biologically meaningful manner.