Monday March 13 2006

The Secrets of our Genes

Professor John Mattick

The standard wisdom in modern genetics says that DNA is organised into genes that make proteins, which in turn make living things.

But less than 2% of DNA in humans is actually used to make proteins, so what does the other 98% do?

The conventional answer is that it doesn’t do anything: it’s simply junk DNA, along for the ride but contributing nothing. John Mattick questions this story and argues that the extra DNA is the opposite of junk: it may be ultimately responsible for the development of all life more complex than bacteria.

John Mattick is a professor at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland. His research has been recognised with numerous awards, both professional and public, including being made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2001.