An Introduction To Bioinformatics


According to oxford English dictionary (Molecular) bio-informatics: bioinformatics is conceptualising biology in terms of molecules (in the sense of physical chemistry) and applying”informatics techniques” (derived from disciplines such as applied maths, computer science and statistics) to understand and organize the information associated with these molecules, on a large scale. In short, bioinformatics is a management information system for molecular biology and has many practical applications.

Bioinformatics is computational and experimental techniques which model the flow of genetic, metabolic, and regulatory information of living beings and helps to understand their unique properties. Bioinformatics is new and evolving science integrated with mathematical and statistical techniques, computer science, engineering, bioengineering, and biological sciences.

The objective of Bioinformatics is to develop and improves on the ways in which the biological data are stored, retrieved, organized and analyzed. Developing software tools to create useful biological information is a major activity of bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics is important part of several branches of biology. Techniques of imaging and signal processing are integral part of molecular biology and bioinformatics to extract useful information from large amounts of raw data. Sequencing, annotation and mutation of genomes are carried out using these techniques. It helps the processes of gene ontology and exploration of literature on biology to organize and retrieve biological information. They are useful in analyzing, expressing and regulating the gene and protein.

Comparisons of genetic and genomic data become easier to understand the concept of evolution in the field of molecular biology. Parts of system biology like biological pathways can be analyzed and catalogued using bioinformatics techniques. It helps in the study of simulation and modeling of DNA, RNA, and protein structures and molecular interactions.

Biological data are stored and organized using databases and information systems and analyzed at much faster rate using sophisticated machines. Techniques of image processing and simulation, artificial intelligence, soft computing and data mining are used to analyze biological data using information theory, system theory, discrete mathematics, control theory. Bioinformatics employs software tools and technologies like C, C++, C#, Java, Perl, XML, Python, SQL, R, CUDA, Spreadsheet applications, MATLAB and BLAST.

Open source software packages like Bioconductor, Biopython, BioJava, Bioclipse, BioRuby, BioPerl, workbench, EMBOSS Taverna and UGENE are used in the field of bioinformatics. A non-profit Open Bioinformatics Foundation is formed to encourage the tradition of creating and maintaining open source applications.

SOAP- and REST-based applications are the web based services in the field of bioinformatics. These applications run in a server which can be accessed from any part of the world allowing the user to be free from dealing with maintenance costs of software and databases.

The practical applications of bioinformatics are in the field of criminology, Human Resource management, Management of sanctuaries of birds and animals, agriculture, fermentation and drug industries, food and bio technologies, etc. for increasing the productivity and efficiency and reducing the costs. In the field of microbiology these techniques is immensely useful in the study of process of development of resistance by bacteria towards antibiotics and developing better antibiotics.

Bioinformatics also finds its application in the field of genetic engineering enabling development of useful traits in the microorganisms and plants for increasing the production of desired materials. For example, a team at Houston’s Rice University has developed genetically engineered strain of yeast to produce resveratrol in a two-step process which will help the production of biobeer rich in resveratrol. Resveratrol is an antioxidant (found in grapes) useful for cancer and cardiac patients.

It seems possible that developments in the field of bioinformatics will enable better quality of life at a reduced cost in the days to come.