Narrator: This is Science Today. Currently, there are nearly a thousand genomes that are partly or fully sequenced and scientists are now looking to comparative genomics as a way to construct evolutionary trees of genomes or to trace the susceptibility of disease. The common technique has been to compare a limited number of highly conserved genes in organisms that have these genes in common. But chemistry professor Sung-Hou Kim of the University of California, Berkeley, has come up with an improved computational method that can accurately compare whole genome sequences of distantly related organisms.
Kim: Basically, we would like to organize all living organisms in some understandable way. Group them first, and then we would like to find out the relationship between the groups.
Narrator: Kim got the idea from text comparison methods used to detect plagiarism in books, college papers and computer programs.
Kim: These computer scientists and mathematicians have been developing all these fantastic tools. The only problem was, they were using different language. We couldn't talk to each other.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.