More Uses for the “-ome” Suffix

The genome encodes all of the RNAs and contains sequences responsible for the transcription of those RNAs and the proper folding and wrapping of the cromosomes. The RNAs encoded by the genome are collectively known as the transcriptome. The transcripts that are translated into proteins represent the proteome or the ORFeome (depending on the context).

I’m fascinated by the growing list of “-omes” out there. Genomics and proteomics appear to be the most established “-omics” disciplines, but a new paper in PNAS has introduced me to an “-ome” with which I was previously not familiar: the allosterome. This represents all of the allosteric interactions in a cell.

Recently, some other grad students and I decided it would be fun to make up our own clever “-omes”. This led to us to making up our new disciplines and clever abbreviations for these made up areas of study. We then dared each other to include these in presentations at the meeting we were attending — with the additional dare that you had to include the new term on a slide without defining it, as if the audience was supposed to be familiar with the moniker. No one accepted the challenge, but a couple of my favorites are listed below:

  • The genome-ome: This is, obviously, a collection of all the genomes. It can be all the genomes of every ogranism, all the sequenced genomes, all the sequenced genomes of a particular taxon, etc. For instance, here’s a page devoted to the Drosophila genome-ome. This may sound boring, but the fun part is the pronunciation. Genome-ome is pronounced “gee-nome-a-nome”, with the rhythm of manamana. If you feel particularly inspired, you can perform a rendition of the song replacing “manamana” with “gee-nome-a-nome”. Doing this during a presentation with audience participation would be a crowning achievement of any young academic’s career.

  • Genoinformatics: A quick Google search reveals that we were not the first ones to come up with this. Darn! Anyway, we defined genoinformatics as bioinformatics on genomes. This wasn’t all that remarkable, but then we realized that it sounds kind of like a guy’s name: Gene Informatics. He then became international, with Geno Informatico from Italy, Jean Informatique from France, Jan Informatik from Germany, and Juan Informatica from Mexico. The next step in this plan is to include an acknowledgement of one of these cosmopolitan characters at the end of a talk. Heck, you could probably slip him in as a coauthor on a genome paper.


  1. #1 sparc
    July 12, 2006

    One clearly has to distinguish between the DESIGNOME and the EVOLUTIOME
    The two terms are defined as the total number of species (alive and extinct) created by some supernatural agent or evolved by the action of natural mechanisms, respectively. Since 1859 the designome decreased to zero, while the evulotiome is still growing due to the number of species to be discovered and those that will evolve in the future.

  2. #2 Abel Pharmboy
    July 12, 2006

    Perhaps, then, I should lay claim to the “sphincterome,” the pattern of common and unique gene expression everywhere from the pyloric sphincter to the sphincter of Oddi. Then, we can solicit NIH for multi-million dollar RFAs to study sphincteromics, establish centers for sphincteromics, have summer conferences at Cold Spring Harbor for sphincteromics, etc…. thanks for the idea!

  3. #3 Peter Ellis
    July 13, 2006

    If they get DNA sequence from H. floresiensis, to see why they’re so small, I suggest we call it the gnomeome.

    Comparing genomes of related species can be called heteromics, while comparing multiple genomes from a single species (e.g. SNP discovery) can be called homo-omics.

    More broadly, any genome sequences from isolated “living fossil” taxa are ‘ome alone, while the logistics of setting up a sequencing project should be referred to as ‘ome economics.

  4. #4 Chris Hyland
    July 13, 2006

    I think it’s gone too far now so you get people saying thigs like the GPCRome. My favourite so far though is Pharmacophylogenomics. Also in genomics you are often dealing with the set of genes in the genome for which you don’t have a function and I always like to call that the unknome.

  5. #5 Plasmidboy
    July 18, 2006

    I’ve heard the term “silenomics” being coined for those who study gene silencing, RNAi etc. Working well with this theme was the construction of the vectors named “Hannibal” and “Kannibal” for plant studies. Now waiting for someone to come up with an interesting title for an RNAi study in foetal development of sheep.

  6. #6 Jason Bobe
    July 19, 2006

    My new favorite is the Incidentalome, derived from “incidentaloma”, a term used in radiology to describe the incidental discovery of a tumor or mass in a patient when the physician was really looking for something else.