How complex an organism is can hardly be determined by the number of its genes – researchers propose the interactome as a new yardstick for this
What really makes an organism? "It’s in the genes", it was said for a long time – not least the Human Genome Project in the 90s of the last century gave rise to the hope of deciphering all the little aches and pains in the human genome, the functioning or non-functioning of the human body, not least cancer, and finally achieving eternal life.
In the meantime, science has become disillusioned. The genome is obviously not the map to the fountain of youth that had been hoped for. The sequence of base pairs in the DNA also says little about the complexity of an organism: Otherwise, the common cabbage, with about 100.000 genes, humans are among the most complex creatures on earth, with 25,000 genes.000 genes in the midfield, somewhere between threadworm (19.000) and thale cress (25.500). Of course, we can’t take this lying down, so researchers have been looking for other criteria for a long time, at least partly in the hope of bringing the human species closer to the crown of evolution.