Forget genomes, are we entering the age of the methylome?

These days, most of us are familiar with the term ‘genome’, and it seems that not a week passes without the identification of a gene that increases our likelihood of anything from gaining weight, to succeeding in exams (or not), being announced in the media. Recently, however, we are starting to learn more and more about how our environment can influence the expression of our genes. The relatively new study of epigenetics is causing a significant shift in our thinking from the concept that our genes determine our destiny, to a much more nuanced and complex model, in which numerous environmental factors may affect the ‘switching on and off’ of those genes.