European Learning Laboratory for the Life Sciences

Our inspiring educational experiences share the scientific discoveries of EMBL with young learners aged 10-19 years and teachers in Europe and beyond.

What is the Code of Life?


The first look at the Code of Life

Sequencing the human genome is one of the hallmarks of modern molecular biology. Storage and management of these vast amounts of sequences involves the usage of powerful computers. The research field involved in the analysis of these data is the field of bioinformatics.

But what can a DNA sequence tell us?

The activities in “A first look at the Code of Life” introduce in a simplified way, what bioinformaticians learn from analysing the human genome. It looks at DNA sequences in the genome that encode for proteins and asks how the sequence can be changed by different mutations, and examines the consequences of these mutations. The phylogenetic tree activity shows how sequences differ between various organisms, and how evolutionary relationships can be deduced from the differences. And finally, what is mobile DNA, and how can it contribute to evolution?


View and download the material below.


Part of this module has been published as a teaching activity “Bioinformatics with pen and paper: building a phylogenetic tree” in Science in School and appears in various languages.

Topic area:  Bioinformatics, Genome biology

Age group:  14-16, 16-19

Author: Cleopatra Kozlowski