Those who read the Wired piece on junk DNA and anti-evolutionism will have noticed that both Francis Collins and I made an appearance (see here for more). It’s pretty clear that our views on genome evolution differ considerably, stemming perhaps from our larger views about how evolution works (see here). It then occurred to me that this is the second time our thoughts on genomes have been juxtaposed recently. The first was in a series of book reviews in Lab Times by WeanÃ©e Kimblewood. You can read the reviews here. It seems The Evolution of the Genome was well received; The Language of God, not so much. Of course, Collins’s book ranks #583 on Amazon.com; mine, not so much.
The buzz on a few blogs today is the pending release of new books. Sort of the academic blogger equivalent to summer blockbusters, I suppose. In any case, it’s great to see that two of the eagerly anticipated items, Darwinian Detectives by Norman Johnson and The Origins of Genome Architecture by Michael Lynch, will both include significant space devoted to the topic of genome size. Not having read either book, it would not be prudent for me to recommend them to anyone (and it is no secret that I have problems with Lynch’s model, which is not the first and probably not the last one-dimensional explanation), but I do suggest that eyes be kept open for their arrival in June.
On another practical note, genome size is no longer just considered an important criterion for choosing genome sequencing targets, it has also been mentioned as directly relevant in the selection of the next wave of evo-devo models. It is also an interesting and important subject of investigation in its own right, of course.
So, while I may not ascribe to some of the explanations for genome size diversity that have been put forth of late, I am very glad to see that this is an active area of discussion that is gaining more attention every day.
Evans, J.D. and D. Gundersen-Rindal. 2003. Beenomes to Bombyx: future directions in applied insect genomics. Genome Biology 4: 107.101-107.104.
Gregory, T.R. 2005. Synergy between sequence and size in large-scale genomics. Nature Reviews Genetics 6: 699-708.
Jenner, R.A. and M.A. Wills. 2007. The choice of model organisms in evo-devo. Nature Reviews Genetics 8: 311-319.
Pryer, K.M., H. Schneider, E.A. Zimmer, and J.A. Banks. 2002. Deciding among green plants for whole genome studies. Trends in Plant Sciences 7: 550-554.