Genetics and Evolution

Why are some species more commonly used for genetic studies than others?

Species with a relatively small genome, with a short generation time from seed to seed, and that are adaptable to living in captivity are appealing as experimental organisms. Even though many of these species bear little physical resemblance to humans, they do share part of our genome and so can answer some of the questions we have about genetic inheritance and gene expression.

Species Kingdom Genome Size
(in millions of base pairs)
Arabidopsis thaliana (flowering plant) Plant 120
Neurospora (orange bread mold) Fungi 40
Escherichia coli (bacteria) Monera 4.64
Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) Animal 170
Caenorhabditis elegans (roundworm) Animal 97


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