omes and omics

On omes and omics in molecular biology by James Thackery

For Journal Club, Dr Marta Milo from the Department of Biomedical Science introduced omes and omics. Grantham Scholar James Thackery explains how he and his colleagues unpacked the subject.

Grantham Scholar James Thackery.
Grantham Scholar James Thackery.

The first Journal Club of 2015 was run by my co-supervisor, Dr Marta Milo, a Lecturer in Computational Biology at the University of Sheffield. After the Christmas break we were all eager to get stuck in and learn more about the fields of research around us.

Omes and omics and plant defence

The paper was Multidimensional approaches for studying plant defence against insects: from ecology to omics and synthetic biology.

This paper was a review of omes and omics, meaning its purpose is to convey a useful understanding of the latest techniques and ideas in that field, with plenty of examples. Reading the paper gives you a glance at the possibilities presented by this work, to complement lab-based studies and research into improving food production.

You may not know what omes and omics are, indeed, only Grantham Scholars with a molecular biology background had even heard of them. But that was the point. Omes and omics are essential facets of modern molecular biology. However, they are also complex concepts to get your head around if you’re not familiar with their background, and that’s what we tackled together.

What are omes?

The discussion was tough, but it was a tough topic.

We eventually defined omes as molecular inventories, with both an encyclopaedic list of their contents and a measure of the quantity of those contents.

For example, a ‘proteome’ would include a list of all proteins found in a cell and the relative quantities of them.

What are omics?

We defined omics as the changes of the omes and the networks they operate in. But defining individual omics (e.g. genomics, interactomics, metabolomics) became more complicated.

After some time we struggled through and ultimately left satisfied – mentally battered, but satisfied.

It was definitely one of the more difficult Journal Clubs as we focused on abstract concepts in a specialised field. I would liken it to our session with Professor Visakan Kadirkamanathan, where we discussed the equally abstract topic of modelling, which was challenging but rewarding.

Ultimately we left with a greater understanding of a key and growing field in scientific studies.

Journal Club is meet up of Grantham Scholars to discuss publications from a multidisciplinary perspective. It is part of the Grantham Scholar training programme.

Edited by Claire Moran. Photo by Andre William from Pexels.