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A distinctive individual human genome is supposed to be found in every cell of the individual to whom it pertains. This essay describes a number of postgenomic lines of research that are increasingly complicating this picture. Contemporary science is beginning to understand multicellular organisms such as ourselves as containing a multitude of distinct genomes and a diverse collection of what are standardly treated as organisms. All of these developments show, this essay argues, that the human is a fundamentally polygenomic organism. The expression “the human genome” is certainly of much more limited significance than was once thought. This perspective is crucial to understanding the growing importance for medicine of research in epigenetics, metagenomics, and other paradigmatically “postgenomic” areas of science.

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