A Japanese Plant Has the World’s Biggest Genome

The Intelligent Designer has a lot of explaining to do. At the website of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, a/k/a Kew Gardens, described in Wikipedia, we read Kew scientists discover the largest genome of them all. Here are some excerpts, with bold added by us:

Scientists at Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory have discovered that Paris japonica, a striking rare native plant of Japan, has the largest genome of them all – bigger than the human genome and even larger than the previous record holder – the marbled lungfish. The results are published in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

This is a link to the paper in that journal: The largest eukaryotic genome of them all?, but you’ll need a subscription to go beyond the abstract. Let’s read on from the Kew Gardens article:

Among animals, some amphibians have enormous genomes, but the largest recorded so far is that of the marbled lungfish (Protopterus aethiopicus) … . Among plants, the record holder for 34 years was a species of fritillary (Fritillaria assyriaca). However earlier this year a Dutch group knocked the fritillary off the top spot when they found that a natural hybrid of trillium (Trillium × hagae), related to herb paris, had a genome just 4% larger than the fritillary … .

This was widely thought to be approaching the maximum size that a genome could reach, until this summer when a team of Kew scientists discovered that the genome of another close relative of herb paris, Paris japonica from Japan, is a staggering 15% bigger than the genome of either the trillium or the fish … .

Hey, bigger is better — right? But how big is this flower’s genome, really? According to this article at the website PhysOrg, Claim: White flower has world’s longest genome:

Researchers at London’s Kew Gardens said Thursday they’d discovered that the Paris japonica has a genetic code 50 times longer than that of a human being.

They quote one expert’s somewhat understated reaction:

“This is certainly an enormously large genome,” said Nick Lane, a fellow at the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. “I don’t know of any larger genomes among plants or animals.” Still, he cautioned that micro-organisms known as amoebas might have even longer codes, saying that the record “might not last long.”


“Effectively, some cells carry massive amounts of ‘junk,’ or at least non-coding DNA, whereas others have very little,” Lane said.

We can’t wait for the reaction of the neo-theocrats at the Discovery Institute‘s creationist public relations and lobbying operation, the Center for Science and Culture (a/k/a the Discoveroids, a/k/a the cdesign proponentsists).

The Discoveroids claim that the genome is the work of a mysterious, magical Designer — blessed be He — and there’s no such thing as junk DNA because the Designer is just too intelligent to waste his efforts like that. This means that all the DNA in that flower’s genome has a purpose. It’s doing something. What that is we don’t know, but it’s obviously well beyond our ability to understand. Those Japanese plants are clearly our superiors.

Your Curmudgeon, for one, welcomes our flowery overlords.

Copyright © 2010. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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2 responses to “A Japanese Plant Has the World’s Biggest Genome

  1. Stamen envy?

  2. [sarcasm]
    Well, maybe the genome is so large because so it glorifies God? Or maybe it is to remind us that we should be humble?
    You can’t expect everything to be just mechanically useful, can you?