Quotes of interest — Brenner (1990) and discussion.

Sydney Brenner is a well-known figure in genetics, having made major contributions to our understanding of gene function and establishing Caenorhabditis elegans as the enormously popular model organism that it is today. He shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for “discoveries concerning genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death’”.  He was also outspoken about various […]


Mattick on transposable element function.

John Mattick, University of Queensland, is one of the leading proponents of the idea that much — perhaps most — of the human genome is functional. He has been making claims along these lines for at least 15 years, but seems to always present it as a new idea. Readers of this blog may […]


Quotes of interest - ERVs.

It has been quite some time since the last update to the Quotes of interest series on junk DNA. Most of the posts have sought to demonstrate that the exhausting cliché that scientists dismissed possible functions for non-coding DNA until recently is false. Therefore, I have provided many quotes indicating that many (if not […]


Quotes of interest -- Alu again.

I discussed the early papers involving the discovery of Alu elements in a previous post in the series. Unlike some transposable elements that are capable of autonomous transposition, Alu elements do not encode the requisite enzymes and depend on those of other sequences such as LINE-1 elements. Alu is restricted to primates, and its […]


Quotes of interest -- satellite DNA in the news.

I have already made note of some of the coverage of noncoding DNA that appeared in Science during the 1980s, and as a sequel to that earlier installment of the series, I want to talk about the coverage in Nature from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Because SINEs, LINEs, pseudogenes, and introns were […]


Quotes of interest -- SINEs and LINEs.

I am hopeful that our exploration of the peer-reviewed scientific literature and related news stories in scientific journals from the 1960s to the 1990s convincingly reveals that those who claim that junk DNA was “long dismissed as irrelevant” have it exactly backwards. Throughout this period, but especially before the non-adaptationist (though not exclusive) alternative […]


Quotes of interest -- beware single citations and non-citations.

As readers who have been following the Quotes of interest series will know, I have been arguing that from the discovery of repetitive DNA until at least the mid-1980s, the general expectation was that it must somehow be functional for the organism. By 1989 or 1990, we start to see claims that noncoding sequences […]


Quotes of interest -- 1970s edition (part one).

I have argued that prior to 1980, when the selfish DNA hypothesis was proposed, it was taken more or less as a given by most biologists that noncoding DNA had some function(s), even if the specific adaptive significance of these sequences had yet to be demonstrated. This was based on simple Darwinian, adaptationist logic: […]


Quotes of interest -- Alu.

Whereas each copy of the human genome contains about 20,000 protein-coding genes, it is also home to more than 1 million copies of a short interspersed repetitive element (SINE) known as Alu. For this reason, Doolittle (1997), perhaps only half jokingly, suggested that the genomes of humans “might be ironically viewed as vehicles for […]


Quotes of interest -- Ohno (1973) and discussion.

The term “junk DNA” was coined by Susumu Ohno in conference presentations at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York and in Rhein, Germany, which were printed in conference proceedings volumes a short time later (Ohno 1972, 1973). Ohno used the term “junk DNA” only once per article (in the titles), and most […]