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Genome Biol Evol. 2014 May 9;6(5):1234-7. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evu098.

Distinguishing between "function" and "effect" in genome biology.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada ford@dal.ca.
2
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.
3
Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph, ON, Canada.
4
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Guelph, ON, Canada.

Abstract

Much confusion in genome biology results from conflation of possible meanings of the word "function." We suggest that, in this connection, attention should be paid to evolutionary biologists and philosophers who have previously dealt with this problem. We need only decide that although all genomic structures have effects, only some of them should be said to have functions. Although it will very often be difficult or impossible to establish function (strictly defined), it should not automatically be assumed. We enjoin genomicists in particular to pay greater attention to parsing biological effects.

KEYWORDS:

ENCODE project; causal role; functional genomics; selected effect

PMID:
24814287
PMCID:
PMC4041003
DOI:
10.1093/gbe/evu098
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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