Contact: Kitta MacPherson
Caption: In research that suggests that so-called "junk DNA" may help organisms overcome adverse growth conditions, a Princeton research team focused on redundant instructional regions in the fruit fly genome known as shadow enhancers. Experiments with shadow enhancers that influence the production of hair-like projections, which are called trichomes, on the bodies of fruit flies showed that, when the researchers deleted these redundant DNA snippets and observed developing fly embryos, flies without shadow enhancers developed with only very slight defects in their trichomes under ideal conditions -- 25 degrees Celsius, or 77 degrees Fahrenheit. But at more extreme temperatures -- pushing the limits of those at which developing fruit flies can survive -- the researchers found that flies without shadow enhancers had severe deficiencies in their trichomes.
Credit: Nicolás Frankel and David Stern, Princeton University
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Related news release: Redundant genetic instructions in 'junk DNA' support healthy development