Do genes exist?

May 13, 2005

Although 'genes' are still thought of as the basic units of inheritance, new research has shown that scientists themselves cannot agree on what constitues a gene. This lack of consensus is so great that the concept of a gene is redundant argues Dr Karola Stotz, lead researcher on the Representing Genes project. The results from the project were announced at a media friendly workshop organised by Egenis, the E.S.R.C. Centre for Genomics in Society, at Exeter University on 13th May.

Prof Paul Griffiths, of the University of Queensland who also worked on the project said " The reality of genome structure today challenges the conventional picture of the gene in the same way that the reality of particle physics challenges the traditional picture of matter. The ‘particles’ of the quantum world can lack such apparently essential features as having mass or being in some particular place. In the same way, just about any of the normal expectations we have when we hear the word ‘gene’ is violated by some important class of DNA sequences.

Physicists changed their concept of a particle in response to the strange world that quantum physics revealed. Just so, in the ‘post-genomic’ world scientists continue to talk about ‘genes’ but often mean something quite at odds with the picture of the gene found in school textbooks.�

Source: ESRC Centre for Genomics in Society

Explore further: Advocacy and community health care models complement research and clinical care

Related Stories

Enzyme research provides a new picture of depression

November 29, 2016

Depression is the predominant mental disease and constitutes the most common cause of morbidity in developed countries. Now researchers at Karolinska Institutet have managed to find a connection between development of depression ...

Secret phenotypes: Disease devils in invisible details

November 24, 2016

When a microscopic lab worm grows an eye-popping oddity, scientists locate the mutated gene that caused it. It's truly interesting. Yet, more important findings, medically relevant ones, may be hiding in traits invisible ...

Recommended for you

Earth's days getting longer: study

December 7, 2016

Earth's days are getting longer but you're not likely to notice any time soon—it would take about 6.7 million years to gain just one minute, according to a study published on Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.