Genome reduction in bladderworts vs. leg loss in snakes.

In one sense, I am happy that there is enough interest in the concept of “junk DNA” (and by extension, my area of research in genome size evolution) that the subject gets regular media attention. A few months ago, it was all about the ENCODE project and its “finding” of “function” for 80% of […]


Physicists try to do biology. WTFness ensues.

I’ll just let this soup sandwich of an abstract speak for itself:

We find that the global relationships among species should be of circular phylogeny, which is quite different from common sense based on phylogenetic trees. A domain can be defined by a distinct phylogenetic circle, which is a global and stable characteristic of […]


Dear Genome: Say what?

Here’s the first sentence from a paper published recently in Genome by Vibhu Ranjan Prasad and Karin Isler:

Gene content, the number of genes coding for proteins, is correlated with genome size in both noneukaryotes and eukaryotes (Lynch and Conery 2003; Konstantinidis and Tiedje 2004; Gregory 2002, 2005).

Say what?

The whole C-value […]


The ENCODE view of genome size diversity: simple and silly.

Below is what I imagine the notes look like at ENCODE meetings, based on Ewan Birney’s comments on Twitter.

“We are the most complex things we know about. It’s not surprising that the manual is huge,” says Birney.

Click for larger […]


Birney thinks the Onion Test is silly.

A few people have wondered what Ewan Birney, lead coordinator of ENCODE, would have to say about the Onion Test.

Well, here’s what he had to say on Twitter.

It’s hard to tell from this dodge, but I suppose the suggestions here are that a) the fact that humans have more DNA than […]


A Gouldian View of the Genome (Venice, Italy, May 10, 2012)

Here is the video of my talk at the Stephen J. Gould’s Legacy: Nature, History, Society meeting held at the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Venice, Italy.


Larry Moran clarifies the Onion Test.

Head on over to Sandwalk to see Larry Moran’s superb clarification of the Onion Test, which seems to be a source of confusion for some.


Daphnia does not have a large genome.

Example headline: Massive Daphnia genome leads to understanding gene-environment interactions

Photo by Paul Hebert

It’s a cool species, an important addition to the cadre of species whose genomes have been sequenced, it has a notably large number of genes (>30,000, according to the current annotation — rice has >40,000, by the way), and […]


Genome size + Cambrian Explosion = Nonsense squared.

I really am thinking about writing a Sokal-style paper for a physics journal to see if they’ll accept it.

The Cambrian explosion triggered by critical turning point in genome size evolution Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Jan 11. [Epub ahead of print] Li DJ, Zhang S

The Cambrian explosion is a grand challenge to […]


What would I do with more research support?

I will keep an updated list of posts in this series: Part One: Background Part Two: “Targeted exploration”