Human genome tally: Is recount in order?

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Different methods of counting genes result in faulty comparisons of biological complexity

The surprising finding that humans have fewer genes than expected led to endless speculations and editorial comments. Would biotech stocks be threatened? Should humans be more humble? Were entirely new theories needed to explain our biological complexity? But these opionions all relied on the idea that comparing the draft sequences of the human genome that were published in February 2001 to sequences of genes in other animals, such as the worm C. elegans, were in fact apples to apples comparisons. Hold everything, said a Harvard Medical School research team. Any comparison depends on how we count genes. And a study published in the March 2001 Nature Genetics, led by Marc Vidal, Harvard Medical School assistant professor of genetics at the Dana–Farber Cancer Institute, offered evidence for a relatively high gene count in the worm C. elegans, calling into question the accuracy of methods that produce a lower count in other species, including humans. Vidal and his team want a recount.