What's in Your Genome?

Larry Moran runs a great blog at Sandwalk:


He has been beating the drum of junk DNA for quite some time, and he has recently published a book, “What’s in Your Genome? 90% of Genome is Junk”, that summarizes much of what he has written over the last decade. He has also given chapter summaries on his blog, starting with the first three chapters:

There is also a separate blog for the book:

If you are interested in the debate surrounding junk DNA this is a great resource to start with. Of course, I would encourage those who want a more in depth understanding of the topic to purchase his book. It has garnered a lot of great reviews.


Looks good. I am cleaning out an old office of mine, and there is junk, and then there is trash. It is hard to know the difference, and sometimes you find uses for junk down the way, much as junk DNA may come in useful sometime as well.
Evidently, the formation of the placenta has a contribution from ancient viral DNA. But, disease may also be related to viral remnants as well. Ancient Virus Fragments in Our DNA Are Activating Where We Least Expect : ScienceAlert

Back to work, deciding what junk to keep. I usually find a use for it the week after I decide to toss it in the trash. Such is life.


It is definitely possible for mutations to occur in junk DNA which results in functional sequence.

Of the hundreds of thousands of viral insertions in the genome there are a relative handful that have function.

Indeed. The cell actually has specific mechanisms that try to silence the expression of viral and transposon sequences for that very reason.

The human genome is a bit more like a collection of broken potshards that do little more than record the history of evolution and ancestry in that lineage. They are useful for understanding what happened in the past but little to no use for the organisms in the present. There’s not a strong selective pressure to get rid of these barnacles of evolution in the vast majority of species, so they tag along for the ride.

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