Model organism

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A model organism is a non-human species that is extensively studied to understand particular biological phenomena, with the expectation that discoveries made in the organism model will provide insight into the workings of other organisms.[1] In particular, model organisms are widely used to explore potential causes and treatments for human disease when human experimentation would be unfeasible or considered less ethical. This strategy is made possible by the common descent of all living organisms, and the conservation of metabolic and developmental pathways and genetic material over the course of evolution.[2] Studying model organisms can be informative, but care must be taken when generalizing from one organism to another.

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Selecting a model organism

Models are those organisms with a wealth of biological data that make them attractive to study as examples for other species – including humans – that are more difficult to study directly. These can be classed as genetic models (with short generation times, such as the fruitfly and nematode worm), experimental models, and genomic models, with a pivotal position in the evolutionary tree [3]. Historically, model organisms include a handful of species with extensive genomic research data, such as the NIH model organisms.[4]

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