Does Gene Duplication Perform As Advertised?

In my previous post, I highlighted a recent peer-reviewed paper which challenged a key tenet of neo-Darwinian evolution — specifically, the causal sufficiency of gene duplication and subsequent divergence to account for the origin of novel biological information. In this follow-up blog, I want to consider some of the case-studies examined in the paper and relay some of the conclusions drawn.

Is “Pseudogene” a Misnomer?

The term “pseudogene” may be as inappropriate as the term “junk DNA,” according to the entry on pseudogenes in the 2010 Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, published by prestigious the academic publisher John Wiley & Sons. Written by researchers Ondrej Podlaha and Jianzhi Zhang at UC Davis and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, respectively, the entry includes a subjection titled “Difficulty with the Pseudogene Definition,” and it states that the discovery of multiple functional pseudogenes should negate the standard presumption that pseudogenes are functionless junk DNA: The term ‘pseudogene’ was originally coined to describe a degenerated RNA- or protein-coding sequence that is incapable of being transcribed or translated into functional RNA or protein products. The key in this definition is Read More ›

Subtle-But Important-Functions of Junk-DNA

The December 17, 2010 issue of Science has yet another article explaining why the concept of “junk”-DNA should no longer be given much credence: It used to seem so straightforward. DNA told the body how to build proteins. The instructions came in chapters called genes. Strands of DNA’s chemical cousin RNA served as molecular messengers, carrying orders to the cells’ protein factories and translating them into action. Between the genes lay long stretches of “junk DNA,” incoherent, useless, and inert. That was then. In fact, gene regulation has turned out to be a surprisingly complex process governed by various types of regulatory DNA, which may lie deep in the wilderness of supposed “junk.” Far from being humble messengers, RNAs of Read More ›

Does Intelligent Design Help Science Generate New Knowledge?

I was recently asked by an evolutionary biologist where ID can help science generate “new knowledge.” It’s important to realize that when dealing with historical sciences like neo-Darwinian evolution or intelligent design, new knowledge takes the form of both practical insights into the workings of biology in the present day (which can lead to insights into fighting disease), as well as taking the form of new knowledge about biological history and the origin of natural structures. In this regard, I could not disagree more with suggestions that ID closes off inquiry and does not lead to new scientific knowledge. Below are about a dozen or so examples of areas where ID is helping science to generate new knowledge. Each example Read More ›