Deconstructing Nature’s “plant without junk DNA” story

The following is an edited excerpt of a longer story.

paper released in Nature this week had all the elements of a good science story. An odd little plant called a carnivorous bladderwort was found to have almost none of the so-called junk DNA that makes up the bulk of other organisms’ genomes.

Here’s what Tia Ghose at LiveScience says:

The findings suggest junk DNA really isn’t needed for healthy plants — and that may also hold for other organisms, such as humans.

It’s an extrapolation that’s not justified by anything the scientists actually found. And so the LiveScience story caused a few scientists to become apoplectic.The problem was with the way the results were being interpreted to imply that because this plant doesn’t need much non-coding DNA, we don’t either.

View the full story here: A Weird Little Plant is Nearly Free of Junk DNA. Big Contentions Underlie Seemingly Cute Story

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