The findings suggest junk DNA really isn’t needed for healthy plants — and that may also hold for other organisms.
Sometimes junk really is just junk. For years, geneticists have tried to determine whether the vast majority of an organism’s DNA—an assortment of so-called junk DNA that seems to serve no purpose—does indeed serve a purpose. Now, thanks to a study published in the journal Nature analyzing the genome of the carnivorous bladderwort, Utricularia gibba, researchers look set to declare the adage true. Far from playing some crucial and mysterious role in the well-being of the plant, it looks like junk DNA really is just junk.
The mystery remains however as to why some organisms have fairly bloated genomes while others have svelte, relatively junk-free ones. Research is, much like a bladderwort, a living process, so it’s entirely possible that new studies will reverse this one in due time. It’s one of the things that makes science exciting, isn’t it? ~AR