Further to “Linc RNA–once believed useless–plays a role in the genome, here is some interesting research on fruit flies:
Geneticists have long puzzled about how completely new genes appear. In a well-known model proposed by Nobel laureate Susumu Ohno, new functions appear when existing genes are duplicated and then diverge in function. Begun’s laboratory discovered a few years ago that new genes could also appear from previously non-coding stretches of DNA, and similar effects have since been discovered in other animals and plants.
“This is the first example of totally new genes still spreading through a species,” said Li Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis and first author on the paper.
“Until recently, de novo origin of genes was considered to be so unlikely as to be impossible,” comparative genomicist Aoife McLysaght of the Smurfit Institute of Genetics at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, who was not involved in the study, told The Scientist in an e-mail. “[T]his population level analysis is important because it gives a new insight into the very early stages of the origin and establishment of genes de novo.”
“To show [the formation of de novo genes] at the population genetics level is really a nice story,” agreed evolutionary biologist Diethard Tautz of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, who also did not participate in the research. “It shows the power of generating from nothing, so to speak.”
First, it’s junk. Now it’s “nothing.”
See also:What? Darwin’s followers did not use junk DNA as an argument for their position? Of course they did. It would have been a slam dunk, if their position were correct.