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Follow-up on Junk-DNA

Since my post on “junk-DNA” last week, I would like to report a couple interesting discoveries on the topic.

Wonderful List of References for Functionality of “Junk-DNA”
I discovered a website at http://www.junkdna.com/new_citations.html which has compiled dozens of citations to articles discussing functionality for non-coding junk-DNA. The site also provides two quotations readers should consider:

“…a certain amount of hubris was required for anyone to call any part of the genome ‘junk’.” — Francis Collins (2006)

“You only believe theories when they make predictions confirmed by scientific evidence.”

Star Trek Promotes the “Introns are Evolutionary Junk” Myth
Last last night I was amused by watching an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation. The episode, called “Genesis,” featured the Enterprise crew “devolving” because of the junk in their introns. The episode called introns mere “evolutionary holdovers.” As the episode description states, “Data explains that a synthetic T-cell has infected the crew and activated their introns-dormant genetic codes held over from earlier evolutionary times.”

But of course, our intronic DNA is not merely “dormant genetic codes held over from earlier evolutionary times” but rather plays a vital role in cellular processes. As discussed earlier, this “evolutionary holdovers” viewpoint may have led to what a geneticist quoted in Scientific American called “one of biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.” It appears that Star Trek is also promoting the Neo-Darwinian myth that introns are junk.