Skip navigation

About IDEA Center

News & Events



IDEA Student Clubs


Contact Us



Genetics, Microbiology, and Systematics News Updates

Please Read On for Genetics, Microbiology, and Systematics News
  • Nano-machines in 'simple' bacteria?: Should one be that surprised to hear that there are nano-machines even in some of the simplest organisms - bacteria? A recent article in the May 2005 edition of the journal Structure discusses the rotary clock found in cyanobacteria (see Jimin Wang, “Recent Cyanobacterial Kai Protein Structures Suggest a Rotary Clock,” Structure, Volume 13, Issue 5, May 2005, Pages 735-741, doi:10.1016/j.str.2005.02.011). What was noted in this article is that this clock functions like a rotary motor and keeps time for the cell, causing 'sleep' during the night and 'activity' during the day. It does this by preventing gene expression at night (i.e. 'sleep'), yet allows gene expression during the day time. This is accomplished through unphosphorylation (causing gene suppression) and phosphorylation of one of the three proteins involved in the rotary clock. This rotary clock has been known about for some time, but how it functioned was unkown until this research occurred. Another surprising feature of the clock is that it apparently lasts longer than cell division cycles. In other words, cell division does not cause destruction of the clock. A simple question: could this be another example of irreducible complexity? Though rather simple, all three proteins are required for proper functioning of gene expression to be consistent with when it is daylight and energy is available through photosynthesis - in other words, the rotary clock is a rather important ingredient for proper metabolism for the cyanobacteria. (8/4/05)
  • Are bacteria really that simple?: An article in the journal Cell notes that subcellular processes for bacteria are much more complex than previously thought (see Zemer Gitai, “The New Bacterial Cell Biology: Moving Parts and Subcellular Architecture,” Cell, Volume 120, Issue 5, 11 March 2005, Pages 577-586 ). Researcher Gitai found that there is a great more similarity between bacteria and eukaryotes in subcellular processes. Some of the specific complexities found are briefly noted in the abstract taken from the article:
    "Recent advances have demonstrated that bacterial cells have an exquisitely organized and dynamic subcellular architecture. Like their eukaryotic counterparts, bacteria employ a full complement of cytoskeletal proteins, localize proteins and DNA to specific subcellular addresses at specific times, and use intercellular signaling to coordinate multicellular events."
    The interesting question is, where did this complexity come from? Did it evolve in current bacteria, or was it present early on in the first bacteria present on Earth? Answering such questions will have significant impacts on the neo-Darwinian view. If the complexity was present early on, the mantra that "everything came from simpler beginnings" will be challenged to explain its rapid appearance.
  • Amoeba shows complexity, evidence of lateral gene transfer: In the February 24 issue of Nature, a genomic study of the amoeba Entamoeba histolytica (Nature 433, 865-868 (24 February 2005)) found curious results. As noted in the summary article available at science daily:
    "The study's first author, TIGR scientist Brendan Loftus, says the contents of the amoeba's genome surprised many scientists. "The parts list we identified implies that E. histolytica may have re-engineered aspects of its metabolism," says Loftus, citing the protist's loss of some genes and its apparent gain of other bacterial-like genes through lateral transfer. "This study will provoke interest in what secrets may lie undiscovered in the sequences of other supposedly 'simple' amoeba genomes.""
    This is another example of genes showing up in places that Darwinian descent doesn’t predict. The reason for this is as follows: amoebas, though “primitive,” are very far removed from bacteria. (6/18/05)
  • Correcting DNA mutations from one generation to the next: Practicing good science led researchers to a novel discovery in a weed (weedy cress, Arabidopsis thaliana) (see Lolle, S.J., Victor, J.L., Young, J.M., and Pruitt, R.E., "Genome-wide non-mendelian inheritance of extra-genomic information in Arabidopsis," Nature 434 (24 March 2005): 505-509.). What researchers found was that the weeds were inheriting their grandparents' normal DNA which did not exist in their parents' mutated DNA (see this picture [from article in] for a great schematic image of this) - according to Mendelian genetics, that's supposed to be impossible! Offspring are not supposed to be able to have DNA that does not exist in their parents, unless it is a mutation (which researchers ruled out in this case). By following the evidence where it led, these researchers may have stumbled across a small piece in the complex developmental information puzzle that goes well beyond DNA. Rather than throwing out evidence that doesn't match the neo-Darwinian paradigm (in this case, Mendelian genetic inheritance), researchers practice good science and can make significant scientific discoveries. Some of the researchers speculate that there may be RNA playing a role in storing the "normal" genetic information for safe-keeping when mutations occur. Regardless of what the error-correcting mechanism turns out to be (which may show promise for helping cure various genetic diseases), it's clear DNA is not the definitive developmental information storer. One can only wonder what small pieces of important data in other studies have been tossed out because they didn't match scientist's preconcieved notions regarding how organisms originate, develop, and leave progeny. "Junk DNA" has already seen some vindication by researchers willing to look in areas traditionally thought to be useless. Let's hope others will be brave enough to do the same: follow the evidence whever it leads. (4/14/05)
  • More cellular complexity: Research scientists studying yeast cells have found another protein quality control system (see R. G. Gardner, Z. W. Nelson & D. E. Gottschling Degradation-mediated protein quality control in the nucleus. Cell. 120(6):803-15 (2005)) - but this one resides in a cell nucleus rather than the typical places such systems are found (e.g. cytoplasm, endoplasmic reticulum, and mitochondria). This provides another example of the ever increasing number of examples of complexity present in cells - a finding consistent with ID. It is likely that researchers will continue to find more cases of complex systems that provide consistent evidence with ID. (4/14/05)

    Above is a picture from EPIGENITICS: It's not all in the DNA.
  • Defined by more than DNA?: A recent finding, published in the journal Cell (Bernstein, B. E., Kamal, M. et al. Genomic maps and comparative analysis of histone modifications in human and mouse. Cell 120, 169-181 (2005)), based on studies of histones in mice and humans, causes a problem for the rational behind relating different organisms through genetic comparisons. With the advent of genetic mapping technology, supposed phylogentic relationships have often been constructed based on comparisons of various organism's DNA sequences. Yet, this new finding shows that DNA may not be as reliable an indicator for evolutionary ancestral relations as previously thought. What was found was that histone modifications are highly conserved between mice and humans, even when the DNA sequences in these same histone areas are not. In fact, as noted in a Nature Reviews Genetics summary (EPIGENITICS: It's not all in the DNA), author Tanita Casci commented that, "[w]hat was striking, however, was that the DNA sequence of functionally conserved sequences, as inferred from histone profiling, did not coincide with higher levels of sequence conservation, implying that comparative genomics is no reliable way of detecting stretches of DNA with conserved epigenetic marks." It turns out histones play a significant role as a genetic regulator rather than being passive molecules simply "holding" DNA. Interested readers may find a previous summary article on this interesting (see Li, E. Chromatin modification and epigenetic reprogramming in mammalian development. Nature Rev. Genet. 3, 662-673 (2002)). (4/14/05)
  • Quality Control in the Protein Factory: A recent review article in Nature, "protein misfolding," notes that the dogma that "transcription turns DNA into RNA, and translation of RNA gives you protein" is incomplete, for proteins must still be folded into their proper form. Studies of protein folding, "are revealing a tightly regulated assembly line, where multiple factors guide nascent proteins to select the correct shape from an almost infinite array of possibilities." In addition to folding, there is "stringent quality-control," which ensure that, "the misfolded products are targeted for degradation before they cause harm." Indeed many diseases, including, "prion diseases, diabetes and cancer" may be caused by the failure to identify misfolded proteins. However, the processes behind this are very complicated, and perhaps future studies of this will reveal they are bear the marks of intelligent design. Perhaps consideration of intelligent design could help stop these diseases.
  • Complex Coral Genes: A recent news article from Nature, "Coral reveals ancient origins of human genes; Invertebrate DNA raises questions about evolution models," states that after sequencing the human genome and portions of coral genomes, geneticists found that the two share a surprisingly large number of genes. From an evolutionary standpoint, the very odd finding is that, "surprisingly, many of these genes are not shared with creatures such as flies and worms, even though these animals evolved millions of years after coral." Out of coral 500 genes that were known in gene databases from previous studies of organisms, nearly 90% had matches in humans, but about 10% had matches with humans but not in less advanced animals like the fruit fly. Since corals are thought to be near the base of the animal tree, this finding was surprising from an evolutionary standpoint because, "the [evolutionary] assumption was that coral would lack many of the genes found in higher animals." Apparently some of these genes are used in higher vertebrates to create our complex nervous systems, and it was not thought they'd be found in more "primitive" corals that have a simpler nervous system. A similar finding was also apparently reported from a study on flatworms that found "advanced" genes that were not expected. This finding is not surprising if one believes in intelligent design, where a designer can re-use parts in unrelated organisms.
  • No Junk in the Cell Yet another major scientific journal--this time Scientific American has produced work discussing that "junk-DNA" is not so junky (see "The Gems of "Junk" DNA," Scientific American, Nov. 2003). This seems to be a good indication of the collapse of the evolutionary prediction that DNA should have lots of evolutionary relic vestigial junk, and the triumph of the prediction of design that there is probably more functionality than one would expect under evolution. The article states that there are at least 2 layesr of functionality in "junk-DNA: "one layer is woven throughout the vast "noncoding" sequences of DNA that interrupt and separate gene ... [which is] transcribed into varieties of RNA that perform a much wider range of functions than biologists had imagined possible." Pseudogenes and microRNAs are also suggested as a possible source of functionality in DNA. These types of DNA--"the introns within genes and the long stretches of intergenic DNA between genes ... 'were immediately assumed to be evolutionary junk" and "long ago written off as irrelevant because they yield no proteins." Evolution tends to preserve what is needed, discard what isn't. However, because of the tendency to discard, biologists thought that what they didn't understand must have been not needed because it had been discarded by evolution. This article clearly shows that junk-DNA is the product of evolutionary predictions that were wrong. Indeed, the article admits that the"assumption [that the DNA was junk] was too hasty" and that "[t]he failure to recognize the importance of introns 'may well go down as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.'" This mistake was apparently caused by evolutionary assumptions--could evolutionary assumptions cause the "one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology?" Perhaps all biology does not make sense in the "light" of evolution.
  • How the Eukaryote got its organelle: A Fable? The symbiosis hypothesis" states that eukaryotes evolved when one primitve prokaryote swallowed another, with the swallowed organisms becoming "organelles" inside the larger organism. This is supposedly how eukaryotes came to have mitochondria organelles. A recent Nature article entitled, "Mitochondrial remnant organelles of Giardia function in iron sulphur protein maturation," tells a story about how Eukaryotes obtained their organelles that challenges widely accepted views of Eukaryote evolutionary origins. The study looked at Giardia intestinalis, a flu-causing eukaryote microbe that lives in human intestines, which was thought to be "primitive eukaryote" in that it lacked mitochondria, a power-producing organelle found in most other eukaryotes. However, the study found that Giardia has "mitochondrial remnant organelles (mitosomes)" which were once mitochondria but underwent "reductive evolution." Thus, Giardia is not a good example of a primitive pre-mitochondrial eukaryotic organism. The presence of the mitochondrial-like organelles seems to have been unexpected in light of the eukaryote phylogeny. Giardia is not "primitively amitochondrial" (i.e. without mitochondria) but rather "retained a functional organelle from the original mitochondrial endosymbiont." Perhaps evolution can explain this data, but the question must be asked, was it good at predicting it? Not only is Giardia no longer an example of an intermediate, but evolution is seen as so plastic and non-robust a theory that it can accomodate any data set. (11/13/03)
  • Porky Pig A Mutant? Scientists have uncovered a single mutation which affects 15-30% of the muscle mass in pigs, reports a news article in Nature, "Genetics: Secrets of a porkier porker" (425:777). Interestingly, the mutation occurs in a "non-coding" region, showing that this area is not necessarily "junk-DNA." Secondly, this has implications for whether or not evolutionary science led to this discovery: apparently farmers had recognized this trait and bred for it years ago. Evolutionists sometimes claim that "nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." This form of artificial selection may demonstrate basic evolutionary principles, but it was clearly not evolution which taught science about how to get "porkier porkers." Evolution is not necessarily an all-powerful ubiquitous principle that helps scientists to see everything, or even a lot of things, in biology. (10/23/03)
  • Looking Down on Common Descent: Some have claimed that the fact that vertebrate and invertebrates use hte gene Pax6 in eye generation is evidence that their common ancestor had an eye that used Pax6. However, a recent paper in Developmental Cell, "Role of Pax Genes in Eye Evolution: A Cnidarian PaxB Gene Uniting Pax2 and Pax6 Function," calls such evidence into question because Pax6 does not act as a "master eye creation" switch as was previously thought because, "data suggest that the ancestor of jellyfish PaxB, a PaxB-like protein, was the primordial Pax protein in eye evolution and that Pax6-like genes evolved in triploblasts (which includes vertebrates) after separation from Cnidaria, raising the possibility that cnidarian and sophisticated triploblastic eyes arose independently." This convergence of Pax6-like genes would indicate that Pax6 does not provide good evidence for common descent. (11/2003)
  • Horizontal Gene Transfer Employed to Explain Eukaryote Origins: A recent paper in the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology, "Lateral gene transfers and the evolution of eukaryotes: theories and data," conjectured that horizontal gene transfer must be used to explain the origin of eukaryotes. The abstract officially declared that, "Vertical transmission of heritable material, a cornerstone of the Darwinian theory of evolution, is inadequate to describe the evolution of eukaryotes" however in resorting to this epicycle of "lateral" or "horizontal" gene transfer, other hypotheses are not considered.
  • Can Bacteria Cooperate? Bacteria seem to be able to cooperate and form "biofilms" which cause infections says a recent article in Nature, Bacterial communication: Tiny teamwork. It may have been evolutionary expectations that bacteria are primitive htat caused them to "assume[] that they lacked the ability to communicate" but the author's conclude, "Bacteria can organize into groups, they can communicate, and these abilities are important factors in the development of many diseases." (July, 2003)
  • Gene Duplication Highly Unlikely: Gene duplication is one of the most common mechanisms employed by evolutionists to attempt to generate new complexity at the genetic level in organisms. A recent article in PNAS, “Convergent neofunctionalization by positive Darwinian selection after ancient recurrent duplications of the xanthine dehydrogenase gene,” claims that, "gene duplication is a primary source of molecular substrate for the emergence of evolutionary novelties," but then admits that, "the chances for redundant gene sequences to evolve new functions are small compared with the probability that the copies become disabled by deleterious mutations." Duplicate genes acquire new functions through the acquisition of a completely new function (neofunctionalization) or through splitting tasks of the original gene with the parent gene (subfunctionalization). Genes are said to only duplicate on average once every 100 million years. However, despite small odds of this rare event, the paper alleges that two gene duplicated and then went through "a period of rapid evolution during which identical sites across the two molecules" converged upon a similar function. Though the paper attributes this change to strong selection pressure, such unlikely convergence, in light of the extreme rarity of gene duplication itself, would seem to implicate common design. (10/23/03)
  • Horizontal Gene Transfer Not Possible in Advanced Organisms: In a recent paper in PNAS, "Horizontal gene transfer: A critical view," the author notes that horizontal gene transfer (HGT) "is likely to have been relevant only to primitive genomes" such that, "classical Darwinian lineages seem to be the dominant mode of evolution for modern organisms." If this is the case, then Darwinists should not resort to HGT to explain the origin of many discrepancies among phylogenetic trees among more complex organisms, such as has been done in plants. (10/24/03)
  • Ribosome does "Fast Forward Scanning": As discussed at "Creation Safaris' October News Headlines" ribosomes, which are "like tape readers that can translate one message, written in DNA, to another message, written in proteins" have a forward "scan function." This allows the ribosome to detach from reading and reattach on a "landing site," at which is then scans the RNA code util it is told to stop scanning by a code sequence. Details of this finding were published in “Evidence that the bypassing ribosome travels through the coding gap,” PNAS USA, 10.1073/pnas.2233745100. The conclusion is clear: the machinery of translation is capable of handling contingencies and unexpected events and, "the big picture of gene translation is far more complex than at first realized." (10/23/03)
  • Junk DNA...I lost count: A recent article published in Science (302:413-414) has found that huge "genetic deserts," once thought to be "junk-DNA" are not really junk at all. In a news article, one author stated that, "Gene deserts may not be home to any genes but they can host DNA sequences that act as long-distance switches to activate faraway genes." The complex interaction of these switches led one biologist to speculate that there are "levels of structure for the human genome that are not simply revealed by the linear arrangement of its sequence." Perhaps this complex interaction is the result of intelligent design. The functional regions were detected by comparing huge regions of "desert DNA" in various organisms, and finding many regions which were "conserved" (i.e. similar). The trigger for one gene was found in the desert. This again shows that evolutionary predictions of junk did not pan out for geneticists.
  • All Primates are Related...aren't they? A study in PNAS, "Alu elements and hominid phylogenetics," concludes that humans and chimps are more closely related to one-another than to gorillas. But wait--the study relied upon ALU and SINE elements in DNA, which are assume to be non-functional junk that is the result of genetic parasites infecting the genome over millions of years of evolution. Are ALU and SINE elements really junk, and if not, is it possible that similarities in the ALU and SINE sequences is really the result of common design, and not evolution? Two recent published studies found function for such sequences:
    1. Lev-Maor, G. et. al., "The birth of an alternatively spliced exon: 3’ splice-site selection in Alu exons," Science, 300:1288-1291 (May 23, 2003) and
    2. Hakimi, M. A., et. al., "A chromatin remodelling complex that loads cohesin onto human chromosomes," Nature, 418:994-998 (August 29, 2002).
    Perhaps phylogenies should not be considered trustworthy when based upon these non-junk DNA sequences.
  • Evolution Didn't Help Fight Microbe-Caused Diseases: A study in PNAS, "Fatty acid biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis: Lateral gene transfer, adaptive evolution, and gene duplication," noted that Mycobacterium tuberculosis had a biosynthetic that was unexpected in light of the traditional bacterial phylogeny of the evolutionary paradigm. To explain the paradox, the authors resort to lateral gene transfer, where genes were not transmitted through common descent. This appears to be an instance where evolutionary assumptions that organisms are the product of common descent led pharmacologists to bark up the wrong tree in trying to fight the disease caused by the tuberculosis microbe. Rather than consider "common design" of different parts, the authors resort to lateral gene transfer. (This might lead to the "evil design" objection. Please click here for a response to the "evil design" objection.)
  • Robust Trees or Assumed Common Descent? A recent study in Nature, "Comparative analyses of multi-species sequences from targeted genomic regions" (424:788-793), discussed how the most "robust" phylogenies are those which include a variety of different types of data: "combined molecular evolution studies examining transposon events, neutral substitutions and exonic changes provide a more robust and informative phylogenetic analysis than any method alone." The implication is, of course, that these methods when used on their own, and then compared, may lead to conflicting phylogenies, highlighting a fundamental deficiency with molecular-based phylogenetic trees: one data set leads to one tree, while another leads to another tree. Under an evolutionary paradigm where common descent is assumed and not tested, trees based upon more types of data and using more methods very well might be closer to the actual phylogeny. If common descent were to be tested, perhaps one would expect that different datasets would lead to similar trees. This would be a truly "robust" tree--whereas when testing descent, a tree which averages many contradictions in phylogeny would be the "flimsy" tree. Convergence of different molecular datasets, taken alone, upon a single tree, is rare. Perhaps descent should be questioned.
  • Endosymbiosis Damaged by Finding Bacterial Organelle?: A recent discovery by researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign "challenges the [symbiosis] theory on the origin of eukaryotic organelles." Apparently, the two fundamental types of cells in life, Eukaryotes and Prokaryotes share a nearly identical organelle. In a prokaryote bacterial cell, they found an organelle almost identical to the acidocalcisome in unicellular eukaryotes, which allows for proton transport. The typical evolutionary explanation for the origin of eukaryotic cells is "endosymbiosis [which] says that as microorganisms engulfed others, then new, membrane-surrounded organelles emerged in eukaryotes." This finding would make the endosymbiosis theory less elegant as it shows that the organelle has been "conserved" in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, arguing against some stage where all eukaryotic organelles were formed when eukaryotes started swallowing prokaryotes. The typical evolutionist solution of "horizontal gene transfer" is also unlikely in this case because too many genes are required to define an organelle. From a design perspective, this shows yet another example of similar designs in disparate lineages, and poses another challenge to evolution. (Press release from 6/17/03)
  • Plants Swapping Genes?: A recent paper in Nature, "Widespread horizontal transfer of mitochondrial genes in flowering plants" (Nature 424, 197 - 201 (July 10,2003)), shows that genes are popping up in clearly distantly-related plant species in patterns that do not match expectations of common descent. To solve this problem, evolutionist systematists invoke "horizontal gene transfer." Such a mechanism has already been used to explain away the non-descent pattern of gene distribution in the 3 basic domains of life, but now it is being applied to higher organisms such as plants. The details of how and why this horizontal gene transfer takes place may be difficult for Darwinists to explain, but it is the only epicycle remaining that can keep the evidence from unequivocally pointing towards common design of parts in unrelated organisms.
  • Prokaryote Organelle Challenges Views of Eukaryote: A BBC news article, Cell evolution puzzle, reports that an organelle shared by all prokaryotes and eukaryotes has been discovered. This "conserved organelle" shows that prokaryotes are more complex than previously thought, making the base-level of complexity in all cells higher. This challenges the hypothesis that prokaryotes are sufficiently simple to account for the origin of eukaryotes, as "simple" prokaryotes supposedly engulfed other types of cells, become a larger more complex cell, the eukaryote. (6/30/03)
  • Junk DNA VI--we just can't get enough:: In a groundbreaking story, Molecular biology: Complicity of gene and pseudogene (Report published in Nature 423:91-96 (May 1, 2003)), UCSD and Japanese researchers have found functionality for a pseudogene in a mouse. The Nature News Story explicitly states that evolution has led researchers to believe that "'[p]seudogenes' are produced from functional genes during evolution, and are thought to be simply molecular fossils." Though the supposed lack of function of pseudogenes causes them to be commonly cited as supposed evolutionary relics that are evidence for common ancestry, the article contines that, "[t]he unexpected discovery of a biological function for one pseudogene challenges that popular belief." Evolutionists have assumed that pseudogenes are non-functional because of predictions of evolution. The evolutionary prediction has discouraged what could be promising research into the biological role of pseudogenes. This "pseudogene" apparently regulates regulation of messenger-RNA on a different chromosome. Intelligent design, on the other hand, could predict that more functionality will be found for pseudogenes. The article ends with a profound question that both evolutionists and design theorists ought to take seriously: "Might the pseudogene copies of other functional genes be similarly useful?"
  • Junk DNA V: Functionality strikes again!: The NY Times now reports that "huge stretches of DNA that do not contain protein-coding genes and have been considered "junk" actually hold the code for some of this RNA" which apparently plays a large role in gene regulation. (RNA Trades Bit Part for Starring Role in the Cell, 1/20/03)
  • Junk DNA IV: Junk DNA seems to be a hot topic these days. With the recent sequencing of the mouse genome, the Washington Post reported that 3% of non-gene portions of the human and mouse genomes seem to be highly "conserved" or similar, implying functionality. To reiterate, these similarities come from portions of the genome which do NOT code for genes, and were previously thought to be functionless "junk-DNA". This implies that very large portions of our genome--portions large than the parts that we already know DO code for genes, are likely to be functional. The article speculated that these portions may regulate growth and activity of other genes and quoted one of the leading scientists who sequende the mouse genome saying, "My goodness, there's a lot more that matters in the human genome than we had realized" (Eric Lander, director of genome research at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass). It should be noted that the functionality wasn't previously "realized" because geneticists have been looking at the genome through the spectacles of an alleged evolutionary history, predicting that the genome contains primarily relic genetic junk. Intelligent design, on the other hand, predicts more functionality and less junk--a prediction which seems to be being confirmed more and more as time goes on and the genome becomes better understood. A report of this research is published in Nature 420, 520 - 562 (2002).
  • Junk DNA III: Study finds similarity in introns among distantly related organisms. Another blow to "junk DNA" has come from the labs of Harvard microbiologists who found that as much as 20% of introns in plants, animals, and fungi are found at similar chromosomal loci. The implication is that these introns have persisted in similar location for many hundreds of millions of years, which is extremely unlikely to have occurred if these non-coding introns are purely functionless and randomly-inserted pieces of so-called junk-DNA.
  • Junk DNA II: Essential Cell Division "Zipper" Anchors to So-Called Junk DNA: Mechanism May Provide Insights Into Development and Cancer. The latest genetic item to be crossed off the "Junk DNA" list may be ALU sequences which appear to have some functionality for binding chromosomes together during mitosis (cell duplication). Though ALU sequences do not necessarily code for proteins (hence why they were previously thought to be "junk"), this evidence strongly supports important functionality for ALU sequences in a structural sense, providing anchoring points for chromosomes to link to one-another. ALU sequences have previously been cited as genetic garbage providing evidence for human ancestry with apes. If they are no longer garbage sequences shared with apes, perhaps do not provide evidence for descent over design. Results were published in Nature Vol 418:994-998.
  • Junk DNA: Study suggests that "Junk DNA" may have a purpose. Transposable L1 elements, typically thought to be non-coding "junk DNA," comprise 17% of our DNA and seem to have a newfound purpose, as they have the ability to repair DNA breaks in chromosomes. Other recent studies have suggested that noncoding "Junk DNA" may play roles in regulating gene expression (see for references) or that noncoding DNA could actually provide necessary structural material to physically maintain larger the size of a cell (see Beaton, M.J. and T. Cavalier-Smith. 1999. "Eukaryotic non-coding DNA is functional: evidence from the differential scaling of cryptomonal genomes" Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B. 266:2053-2059). This is currently an active area of research for professional inteligent design scientists.
  • The Fossil Record and Phylogenetic Trees: A recent paper in Bioessays found that large datasets do not improve the overall congruence of phylogenetic trees based on the fossil record or biomolecules. The review hoped that larger datasets would lessen contradictions, however this did not happen, and conflicts in phylogenetic trees seem to have had little improvement since Darwin's day, despite vastely more data and technological advancements. See "The tree of life and the rock of ages: are we getting better at estimating phylogeny" by Matthew A. Wills, Bioessays, 24:203-207, (2002) and "Finding the tree of life: matching phylogenetic trees to the fossil record through the 20th century" by Michael J. Benton in Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 268:2123-2130 (2001).

    Back to the Main Origins News Page