December 10 marked another "major milestone" in molecular biology. An international consortium of scientists announced that they have obtained the first complete genetic blueprint of a complex animal.

C. elegans
Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis and the Sanger Centre in Cambridge, U.K., have sequenced the 97 million-base genome of Caenorhabditis elegans, biologists' favorite worm. The product of a nine-year effort, the C. elegans sequence joins those of E. coli and yeast in what Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute in Bethesda, Md., describes as "a string of stunning successes in determining the complete sequences of ever-more-complex organisms."

"This sequence gives us our first real picture of what it will be like to understand a complex, multicellular organism such as ourselves," says National Institutes of Health Director Harold Varmus.

With greater than 99 percent of the worm sequence complete, the researchers have uncovered...

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