Study: Junk DNA is critically important

Oct 19, 2005

A University of California-San Diego scientist says genetic material derisively called "junk" DNA is important to an organism's evolutionary survival.

Junk DNA is so-called because it doesn't contain instructions for protein-coding genes and appears to have little or no function. But Peter Andolfatto, an assistant professor of biology, says such DNA plays an important role in maintaining an organism's genetic integrity.

In studying the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, Andolfatto discovered such regions are strongly affected by natural selection -- the evolutionary process that preferentially leads to the survival of organisms and genes best adapted to the environment.

Andolfatto says his findings are important because the similarity of genome sequences in fruit flies, worms and humans suggests similar processes are probably responsible for differences between humans and their close evolutionary relatives.

"Sequencing of the complete genome in humans, fruit flies, nematodes and plants has revealed the number of protein-coding genes is much more similar among these species than expected," he said. "Curiously, the largest differences between major species groups appear to be the amount of 'junk' DNA, rather than the number of genes."

He details his research in the Oct. 20 issue of Nature.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: You deserve it! Are consumers more likely to buy unique products when made to feel special?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

HP CEO Whitman assumes chairman's role

2 hours ago

Hewlett-Packard said Thursday that chief executive Meg Whitman would chair the US tech giant, after the resignation of non-executive chairman Ralph Whitworth.

Facebook tests 'Buy' button

2 hours ago

Facebook is testing a "Buy" button in its latest effort to help businesses drive sales through the world's biggest online social network.

Recommended for you

P90X? Why consumers choose high-effort products

10 hours ago

Stuck in traffic? On hold for what seems like an eternity? Consumers often face situations that undermine their feelings of control. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, when a person's sense of con ...

Overdoing it: Multiple perspectives confuse consumers

10 hours ago

Television commercials for luxury vehicles pack a lot in their 30-second running times: the camera offers quick shots of the soft leather upholstery, the shiny colors, the state-of-the-art entertainment system, ...

User comments : 0