Eureka!: Small Wonders

No Need for Junk

Photo: Enrique Ibarra-Laclette, Claudia Anahi Pérez-Torres and Paulina Lozano-Sotomayor


The carnivorous bladderwort snares prey with tiny traps, like the one pictured here. Research on this predator plant has ignited international debate on the purpose of “junk DNA”—stretches of genetic material that don’t contain any genes. Just 3 percent of the bladderwort’s genome is junk, suggesting to UB biologist Victor Albert that this material, prevalent in humans, is not needed for complex life. Albert co-led a project to sequence the plant’s DNA.