Pictorial representation of a Senior Secondary Biology Laboratory wherein the wet lab and in-silico techniques are integrated to understand and analyse the structure and function of DNA.
Picture credit: modified from https://www.vectorstock.com
Bioinformatics or in-silico biology is an integral part of life sciences as well as biological research. It has gained significant momentum over the last few decades, thanks to the development and advancements in high-throughput sequencing technologies. Such innovations have led to an exponential increase in the number of sequence data generated from different organisms, which can be easily accessed from biological databases. This sequence data can be studied and analysed for a variety of applications including molecular diagnostics, crop improvement, animal husbandry, forensic sciences, evolution, and drug designing, to name a few.
In fact, the entire world witnessed the potential of bioinformatic research when the COVID-19 vaccine was developed in a short period using viral sequence data. Thus, the field of biological sciences has been revolutionised with the use of sequence data.
So, with an aim to understand biological principles using in silico techniques and provide basic hands-on training required for computational analysis of biological data, bioinformatics was included in the curriculum of undergraduate students. However, we suggest that it should also be included as part of the biology syllabus of senior secondary students across India. Since the students are already acquainted with the foundation principles of molecular biology, cell biology, and genetics as well as mathematics and/or computer sciences, they can understand the interdisciplinary subject of bioinformatics which integrates computer science and biology.
Let’s take one classroom example to understand the reasons for the intervention of bioinformatics at the senior secondary level. When students isolate DNA and study the structure and function of DNA molecules, they can be encouraged to visualise its structural and functional details in silico in addition to the 3D models or 2D images available in various science textbooks (Figure 1)…read more on NOPR