January 12, 2004 | David F. Coppedge

Centromere Shows More Gems in “Junk DNA”

A biochemist at University of Wisconsin-Madison and a colleague sequenced a hard-to-sequence part of the rice genome, the centromere, and found four genes in it.  Previously, it was thought to be a vast wasteland of repetitive, non-coding DNA.  The scientist, Jiming Jiang, thinks his work provides a “window to evolution” of the centromere, according to writer Terry Devitt: “The evolutionary progression of the centromeres, Jiang suggests, may be analogous to how temperate forests evolve from more diverse ecosystems to climax forests where a single species of tree dominates.  In the rice centromere, it may be that evolution has not yet purged active genes to be replaced by the long and repetitive blocks of DNA that mark the centromeres of most organisms.”

Where’s the evolution?  If you start with genes and end up with more junk, you’re going downhill.  He should be celebrating that junk DNA is not junk after all.  Only a committed Darwin Party member could make an evolutionary spin out of this data.  Just the facts, ham.

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