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BMC Biol. 2017 Dec 5;15(1):116. doi: 10.1186/s12915-017-0460-9.

On causal roles and selected effects: our genome is mostly junk.

Author information

1
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. ford@Dal.Ca.
2
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
3
Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Abstract

The idea that much of our genome is irrelevant to fitness-is not the product of positive natural selection at the organismal level-remains viable. Claims to the contrary, and specifically that the notion of "junk DNA" should be abandoned, are based on conflating meanings of the word "function". Recent estimates suggest that perhaps 90% of our DNA, though biochemically active, does not contribute to fitness in any sequence-dependent way, and possibly in no way at all. Comparisons to vertebrates with much larger and smaller genomes (the lungfish and the pufferfish) strongly align with such a conclusion, as they have done for the last half-century.

PMID:
29207982
PMCID:
PMC5718017
DOI:
10.1186/s12915-017-0460-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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