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“Non-essential” genes give robust growth


Research often shows no apparent effect (phenotype) of deleting most genes. Hillenmeyer et al now find that 97% of yeast genes have an important biological function. Optimal growth requires nearly all genes in absence of “rich” medium in the lab. Sounds like robust design.
Science 18 April 2008: Vol. 320. no. 5874, pp. 362 – 365
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150021

The Chemical Genomic Portrait of Yeast: Uncovering a Phenotype for All Genes

Maureen E. Hillenmeyer,et al.

Genetics aims to understand the relation between genotype and phenotype. However, because complete deletion of most yeast genes (~80%) has no obvious phenotypic consequence in rich medium, it is difficult to study their functions. To uncover phenotypes for this nonessential fraction of the genome, we performed 1144 chemical genomic assays on the yeast whole-genome heterozygous and homozygous deletion collections and quantified the growth fitness of each deletion strain in the presence of chemical or environmental stress conditions. We found that 97% of gene deletions exhibited a measurable growth phenotype, suggesting that nearly all genes are essential for optimal growth in at least one condition.

If the theory is correct, how can any genes not be "essential"? As Natural Selection is the only DNA preservative known to modern biology, any gene that isn't used should become mush. Even the other 97% of genes, have the ancestors of the tested yeast experienced the necessary environments to maintain their value with sufficient frequency to account for their preservation? I am of the mind that there is an unknown DNA preservative, this is yet another piece of evidence validating this hypothesis. bFast

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