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The genomes of all living things interact with many other interdependent parts. We respond as biological "systems" to the environment that surrounds us.
Just as we get used to the idea of DNA and its importance in our lives, scientists are moving on. DNA doesn't control life like a predictable, sequential processing program, they have discovered. Instead, the genomes of all living things -- from the microbe to the whale to the human being - interact with many other interdependent parts. These include other cellular components; our tissues, organs, other organisms and each other; the air, water and soil we inhabit; and even damage or stimulation from sources such as radiation and stress. We respond as biological "systems" to the environment that surrounds us.
By studying what they call systems biology, scientists aim to understand the complex interactions that make up living organisms and the ecological networks that sustain us. They are bringing together disciplines including genetics, computer modeling, mathematics, engineering and physics. The interplay of the whole, they say, offers much more information than close examination of each part.