Junk DNA and ID redux.

Just a reminder, these are the important points under discussion:

* Proponents of ID themselves clearly suggest that “junk DNA” will mostly or all be functional.

* No unambiguous explanation has been given for why ID must assume that non-coding DNA is functional, especially since they say nothing can be known about the designer […]


Bacterial genomes and evolution.

The seminar that I give most often when I am invited to speak at other universities begins with a brief introduction to genomes, sets up some comparisons between bacteria and eukaryotes, and then moves into a short overview of bacterial genome size evolution before spending the remainder of the time on genome size diversity […]


Endogenous retroviruses and human transcriptional networks.

The human genome, like that of most eukaryotes, is dominated by non-coding DNA sequences. In humans, protein-coding exons constitute only about 1.5% of the total DNA sequence. The rest is made up of non-coding elements of various types, including pseudogenes (both classical and processed), introns, simple sequence repeats (microsatellites), and especially transposable elements — […]


Function, non-function, some function: a brief history of junk DNA.

It is commonly suggested by anti-evolutionists that recent discoveries of function in non-coding DNA support intelligent design and refute “Darwinism”. This misrepresents both the history and the science of this issue. I would like to provide some clarification of both aspects.

When people began estimating genome sizes (amounts of DNA per genome) in the […]


More about ENCODE from Scientific American.

It is probably just coincidence, but two articles for which I gave interviews appeared online today. The first, which I discussed in an earlier post, was online in Wired, One Scientist’s Junk Is a Creationist’s Treasure by Catherine Shaffer. The second appeared in the online edition of Scientific American, The 1 Percent Genome Solution […]


Junk DNA gets Wired.

There is a new article on the Wired website about junk DNA [One Scientist’s Junk Is a Creationist’s Treasure]. I make a very brief appearance in it, and I just want to clarify what I meant by the statement cited (I’m still learning that even an hour-long interview might result in only a short […]


Gene Genie and the DNA Network.

Here are some of the positive developments among blogs that I am happy to discuss.

The latest edition of Gene Genie is now up on Gene Sherpas, in which I have two contributions. This is my first blog carnival, and I want to thank our host and everyone else involved. The next round will […]


Effect versus function.

There has been quite a bit of discussion in the media recently about discoveries of [indirect evidence for] functions in [small portions of] non-coding DNA. Unfortunately, the parts in square brackets are often omitted. It is also the case that many reports overlook the important distinction between effect and function, leaving readers with the […]


Non-coding DNA and the opossum genome.

The genome sequence of the gray short-tailed opossum, Monodelphis domestica, was published in today’s issue of Nature (Mikkelsen et al. 2007). It is interesting for many reasons, including its status as the first marsupial genome to be sequenced, its relatively large genome size, and low chromosome number (2n = 18). It is also interesting […]


Gene number and complexity.

Leaving aside the difficulty in defining terms such as “complexity” and “gene“, there has been for many decades an underlying assumption that there ought to be some relationship between morphological complexity and the number of protein-coding genes within a genome. This is a holdover from the pre-molecular era of genetics, when it was at […]