`Junk` DNA may not be needed for building of complex life

Last Updated: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 15:42

Washington: Noncoding DNA, which has puzzled scientists for so many years, and is abundant in many living things, may not actually be needed for creation of complex life, according to researchers.

The clue is in the carnivorous bladderwort plant, Utricularia gibba`s genome.

The scientists said that it seems that the plant has been busy deleting noncoding "junk" DNA from its genetic material over many generations, which may explain differences between bladderworts and junk-heavy species like corn and tobacco - and humans.

The study was directed by aboratorio Nacional de Genomica para la Biodiversidad (LANGEBIO) Director and Professor Luis Herrera-Estrella and UB Professor of Biological Sciences Victor Albert, with contributions from scientists in the United States, Mexico, China, Singapore, Spain and Germany.

Albert said that only 3 percent of the bladderwort`s genetic material is so-called `junk` DNA and somehow it has been able to get rid of most of what makes up plant genomes.

He added that the results say that you can have a perfectly good multicellular plant with lots of different cells, organs, tissue types and flowers, and you can do it without the junk.

The bladderwort is a complicated plant, which lives in aquatic habitats such as freshwater wetlands, and has developed corresponding, highly specialized hunting methods.

The researchers said that the U. gibba genome has about 80 million DNA base pairs - a small number compared to other complex plants - and the deletion of noncoding DNA appears to account for most of that size discrepancy.

U. gibba has about 28,500 genes, compared to relatives like grape and tomato that have larger genomes of about 490 and 780 million base pairs, respectively.

The minuscule size of the U. gibba genome is surprising, as the species has undergone three complete genome doublings since its evolutionary lineage split from that of tomato.

The research is set to be published in the journal Nature


First Published: Monday, May 13, 2013 - 15:41

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