The sequencing of the human genome by the end of the 20th century was undoubtedly a great scientific milestone that opened a new phase full of promises and challenges, the era of genomics.
While 20th century genetics and molecular biology focused on the isolation and characterization of single genes, genomics seek to sequence and characterize whole genomes, entailing a qualitative leap forward towards the study of gene interactions that have been difficult to address using traditional approaches, the genetic basis of phenotypic traits and the evolutionary dynamics of genomes, among other issues.
The human genome project followed the sequencing of other simpler organisms, including single-celled microorganisms like bacteria, archea and yeasts. The research went hand in hand with other complex genomes, mainly from model organisms like the mouse, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), the worm nematode caenorhabditis elegans and the small flowering plant arabidopsis thaliana, among others.
Since then, the list of sequenced genomes has continued to grow exponentially. As of April 7th 2010, 1.255 genomes had been completed and released, s great majority –1.047-- correspond to bacteria, 81 to archea, and 127 to eucharia.
Of these, only 22 are from Chordata and 15 from mammals (H. sapiens (6), Pan troglodytes, Macaca mulatta, Canis familaris, Ratus norvegicus, Mus musculus, Bos taurus, Equus caballus, Monodelphis domestica, y Ornithorhynchus anatinus).
Genomics means cutting-edge technology. It started with the reading of the 3,000 million letters which forms the human genome ten years ago. This developement opened a new world of possibilities and oportunities for the biological, medical and evolutionary sciences.
A decade of exponential technological progress has dramatically reduced the cost of whole genome sequencing, removing the main restriction for non-model species. The giant panda genome was assembled in 2010 and here's a current proporsal to sequence more than 10.000 species to study vertebrate evolution.