Genes are Useful

A Caenorhabditis elegansA paper from way back in February, called The Majority of Animal Genes Are Required for Wild-Type Fitness (pdf), opened with the following:

Almost all eukaryotic genes are conserved, suggesting that they have essential functions.

What this jargon-filled sentence means is that “almost all” genes in animals/plants/fungi/protists exist in other animals/plants/fungi/protists (and sometimes even in bacteria), and have thus not been lost or otherwise discarded, which suggests that they are probably fairly useful. It’s worth realising here and now that this logic is based on the unspoken premise of evolution, which in sane-people land is a fairly safe assumption for research purposes. If creationism were true, on the other hand, there would be no basis upon which to draw such a conclusion. Continue reading