Wednesday, 19 September 2012

New Research Kills Evolutionary Genetics?

Interesting conclusions in Nature.

Joel Kontinen

Junk DNA was not the only casualty of the recently published ENCODE project. A paper in Nature authored by Djebali and colleagues recommended that the concept “gene” should be re-defined. They concluded:

This supports and is consistent with earlier observations of a highly interleaved transcribed genome, but more importantly, prompts the reconsideration of the definition of a gene. As this is a consistent characteristic of annotated genomes, we would propose that the transcript be considered as the basic atomic unit of inheritance. Concomitantly, the term gene would then denote a higher-order concept intended to capture all those transcripts (eventually divorced from their genomic locations) that contribute to a given phenotypic trait.”

This is rather interesting, as there is a field of studies called evolutionary genetics, which relies heavily on Darwinian evolution. What should we now call it? Junk science, perhaps?


Djebali, Sarah et al. 2012. Landscape of transcription in human cells. Nature 489 (7414): 101-108.