Sunday, 14 June 2015

Evolution Never Predicted This: Our Genome Is Much More Dynamic Than We Thought

DNA is a dynamic part of our very dynamic genome. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Everything we thought we knew about the genome is turning out to be wrong.” This is how a recent book review in New Scientist begins.

Claire Ainsworth looks at The Deeper Genome: Why There Is More to the Human Genome Than Meets the Eye by John Parrington (Oxford University Press) and The Developing Genome: An introduction to Behavioral Epigenetics by David S. Moore (Oxford University Press USA) and says that we should do away with old metaphors such as 'blueprint':

" ‘Blueprint’ is a lousy metaphor since it implies that the genome is two-dimensional, prescriptive and unresponsive.”

She has this to say about DNA:

It's no simple linear code, but an intricately wound, 3D structure that coils and uncoils as its genes are read and spliced in myriad ways. Forget genes as discrete, protein-coding ‘beads on a string’: only a tiny fraction of the genome codes for proteins, and anyway, no one knows exactly what a gene is any more.

It’s high time to discard the old Darwinian mechanistic idea of the genome. Evolution predicted that it would be full of junk left over from millions of years of Darwinian processes.

What we are discovering is something entirely different: Our genome is an extremely intricate system, far more dynamic and complicated than anyone could have guessed.

And it looks like it has been designed to be an intricate system that defies worn out metaphors such as 'blueprint' or 'master controller.'

In other words, it looks like the handiwork of a benevolent Creator we read about in Genesis.


Ainsworth, Claire. 2015. DNA is life's blueprint? No, master controller of the cell. New Scientist 3025 (13 June).