The research team led by Dr. Reina Komiya (who is also senior author of the research paper) focused on a molecule called non-coding microRNA2118. They found that microRNA2118, and possibly assisted by proteins in the Argonaute group, will target over 1,000 other long non-coding RNAs and cut them in many secondary small RNAs. These secondary small RNAs likely interact again with Argonaute proteins as vital elements of a regulatory system controlling the growth and development of the plant’s reproductive organs.
The press release noted,
Many previous developmental studies have focused on genes—the sections of DNA that provide instructions for making proteins. But in complex creatures like plants and animals, a large fraction of the genome—typically between 90-98% - doesn’t actually code for proteins. The vast expanse of this ‘junk DNA’ has long puzzled biologists, with many dubbing it the ‘dark matter’ of the genome. But recent research suggests that many of these non-coding genomic regions may have a function after all, giving rise to non-coding RNA.1
When did the concept of “junk DNA” get going? It began when genetic researchers made a curious finding in the early 1970s. They observed that over 95% of DNA did not code for proteins. Some DNA was characterized in perplexing ways, such as long strings of repeated code that almost seemed like gibberish. Highlighting how evolutionary theory consistently fosters the practice of poor science methodology, many evolutionists hastily labelled that huge segment of DNA as “junk” beginning with geneticist Susumu Ohno.2 Ohno explains,
More than 90% degeneracy contained within our genome should be kept in mind when we consider evolutional changes in genome sizes. What is the reason behind this degeneracy?…The earth is strewn with fossil remains of extinct species; is it a wonder that our genome too is filled with the remains of extinct genes? Triumphs as well as failures of nature’s past experiments appear to be contained in our genome.
Evolutionary researchers believed they had discovered genomic fossils and other genetic wreckage that were the supposed byproducts of nature blindly “tinkering”3 around with the DNA of organisms during the eons of their envisioned evolution.
Evolutionists pounced on the existence of this so called “junk DNA” as both evidence for its evolutionary origin and as a strong argument against DNA being intelligently designed. A popular historian of science, Michael Shermer contrasts these two explanations for DNA’s origin,
“Rather than being intelligently designed” Shermer said, “the human genome looks more and more like a mosaic of mutations, fragmented copies, borrowed sequences, and discarded strings of DNA that were jerry-built over millions of years of evolution.”4
Many discoveries identifying essential purposes for non-coding DNA spotlight how the whole concept of “junk DNA” constitutes yet another major evolutionary blunder.5
Today, Dr. Komiya could not have presented a more contrary assessment of the importance of this research saying,
This study shows that non-coding RNAs, derived from regions of the genome that were thought to be non-functional, are vital for plant reproduction. Exploring non-coding RNAs further is an exciting and important area of research.1
Vital indeed. If the informational function of DNA is interpreted from an engineering perspective rather than through selectionism, then a primary purpose for non-coding genetic material becomes clearer. For example, in a construction project, much more information is needed to control the timing, location, dimensions and arrangement of the materials used in the structure than the information for making the materials themselves (which might be substantial). DNA coding for proteins could be interpreted as prescribing the building materials and non-coding DNA (or RNA) is likely one source of information regulating the placement or utilization of those materials. The press release on Komiya’s work would lend support to this engineering-based interpretation stating that “although studies show that non-coding RNA plays a vital role in the regulation of gene expression—the process where a gene’s instructions are used to make RNA or protein—the precise function of each specific non-coding RNA remains poorly understood.”1
Komiya presented one intriguing reason in his Nature Communication research paper for why a better understanding of regulatory, non-coding genetic material is needed. It seems the whole complex system of which microRNA2118 is a key element may be rapidly “adaptive under various environments…[that] may be a reproductive strategy to prosper offspring, including a novel adaptive mechanism for an environmental response.”6
Evolutionists gloated for over three decades that the existence of so many different types of useless genetic junk fit evolutionary expectations perfectly. But a large volume of research along the lines of Komiya’s over the last decade has shown that their theory led them into another spectacular blunder. Instead, regulatory genetic material does fit an engineering-based framework for biology and models to explain biological function like ICR’s continuous environmental tracking (CET) model for adaptation.7
1. Ellenby, D. Study finds ‘dark matter’ DNA is vital for rice reproduction. Posted on www.oist.jp June 19, 2020, accessed July 15, 2020.
2. Ohno, S. 1972. So much ‘junk’ DNA in our genome. Brookhaven Symposia in Biology. 23: 366-370. Posted on junkdna.com, accessed July 15, 2020 at 367, 368, 369.
3. Jacob, F. 1977. Evolution and tinkering. Science. 196(4295): 1161–1166.
4. Shermer, M. 2006. Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design. New York: Times-Holt, 75.
5. Guliuzza, R. J. 2017. Major Evolutionary Blunders: Evolutionists Strike Out with Imaginary Junk DNA, Part 1. Acts & Facts. 46 (4); Guliuzza, R. J. 2017. Major Evolutionary Blunders: Evolutionists Strike Out with Imaginary Junk DNA, Part 2. Acts & Facts. 46 (5); Tomkins, J. P. ENCODE Reveals Incredible Genome Complexity and Function. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org September 24, 2012 accessed July 15, 2020; Tomkins, J. P. Former Junk DNA Candidate Proves Indispensable. Posted on ICR.org April 14, 2014 accessed July 15, 2020.
6. Araki, S. et al. 2020. miR2118-dependent U-rich phasiRNA production in rice anther wall development. Nature Communications. 11(3115): 10.
7. Guliuzza, R. J. 2019. Engineered Adaptability: Continuous Environmental Tracking Wrap-Up. Acts & Facts. 48 (8).
*Dr. Guliuzza is President and Chief Operating Officer at the Institute for Creation Research. He earned his M.D. from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Public Health from Harvard University, and served in the U.S. Air Force as 28th Bomb Wing Flight Surgeon and Chief of Aerospace Medicine. He is also a registered Professional Engineer and holds a B.A. in theology from Moody Bible Institute.