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 [...]


ENCODE quote compilation.

Here’s a short compilation I made for use in a recent presentation on ENCODE and the claim that 80% of the human genome is functional. These are quotes from ENCODE project leaders and the senior editor of Nature. It is not surprising that the story presented by the media was that ENCODE had destroyed [...]


Critiques of ENCODE in peer-reviewed journals.

There has been lots of talk (including some in the media; see here and here and here) about the Graur et al. (2013) paper in GBE which was critical of ENCODE, much of it focusing on the tone of the paper. While the Graur et al. (2013) paper certainly doesn’t pull any punches in [...]


BBC interview with Ewan Birney.

Say what you want about the tone of the Graur et al. (2013) paper in Genome Biology and Evolution, but it has people talking. Including Ewan Birney, the lead scientist of the ENCODE project and the primary spokesperson for ENCODE in the media fiasco describing the “death of junk DNA”. Most recently, Birney was [...]


Graur et al. to ENCODE: Zing!

I expect that we will be seeing several harsh critiques of ENCODE’s extraordinary claims about function in the human genome and the equally incredible mega-hype associated with the project. I know of at least one more that is forthcoming from a heavy-hitter in the field, but as a snarky smackdown, it will be very [...]


Another just-so story, this time about fists.

“It is demonstrable,” said he, “that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings, accordingly [...]


Max Libbrecht on ENCODE’s results regarding junk DNA.

Max Libbrecht is a PhD student at the University of Washington, and was one of the several hundred researchers involved in the ENCODE project. I have already mentioned Max because of his important comments on ENCODE and junk DNA elsewhere on the interwebs. I mentioned that he would be welcome to write a guest [...]


More ENCODE videos.

In addition to the cringe-inducing cartoon sponsored by Nature, here are some other videos that have been put out about the ENCODE results. You tell me who you think is responsible for propagating the claim that ENCODE found that “80% of the genome is functional” and that it has overturned the notion of “junk [...]


New Scientist on junk DNA.

In terms of articles on the topic of junk DNA, New Scientist has consistently been among the most even-handed and accurate. Here is a list of examples from the magazine:

The ever deepening mystery of the human genome

Don’t junk the ‘junk DNA’ just yet

Why ‘junk DNA’ may be useful after all

Unknown [...]


Our Friend the Atom, er, ENCODE.

Nature (2012):

Disney (1957):

AT&T (1948):

Sherwin-Williams (1946):

Plus ça change…