Essential genes play an important role in multiple facets of modern medicine and biology. For instance, because of the lethality from their disruptions, essential genes are often attractive targets of antibiotics. Essential genes of an organism also constitute its minimal gene set, a key concept in the emerging field of synthetic biology.
Studying gene essentiality provides a crucial step toward understanding the complex relationship between genotype and phenotype, a fundamental question in genetics. Rapid and accurate identification of essential genes in under-studied organisms will significantly improve our understanding of how a cell works and our ability to re-engineer microorganisms that will have energy, bioremediation, pharmaceutical and biodefense applications.
Collaborators: Daniel Hassett, Judith Rhodes, David Askew