Biological dark matter

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Biological dark matter is an informal term for genetic material or microorganisms that are unclassified or poorly understood.

Biological dark matter includes non-coding DNA (junk DNA)[1][2][3] and non-coding RNA.[4][5][6] Much of the genomic dark matter is thought to originate from ancient transposable elements and from other low-complexity repetitive elements.[7][8] Uncategorized genetic material is found in humans and in several other organisms.[9][10] Their phylogenetic novelty could indicate the cellular organisms or viruses from which they evolved.[11]

Biologists are unable to culture and grow 99% of all living microorganisms,[12][13][14][15][16] so few functional insights exist about the metabolic potential of these organisms.

See also[edit]

  • Microbiological culture
  • Shadow biosphere – A hypothetical microbial biosphere of Earth that uses radically different biochemical and molecular processes than currently known life
  • Shadow life – A hypothesis that if life has evolved on Earth more than once, microorganisms may exist on Earth which have no evolutionary connection with any other known form of life
  • Taxonomy – The science of identifying, describing, defining and naming groups of biological organisms


  1. ^ Carey, Nessa (2015). Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231170840.
  2. ^ Kolata, Gina (5 September 2012). "Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From 'Junk', Play Crucial Role". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  3. ^ Boyle, Rebecca (6 September 2012). "Inside the Mysterious Dark Matter of the Human Genome". Popular Science. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  4. ^ B. F., Pugh; Voss, Katrina (13 September 2013). "Scientists Discover the Origins of Genomic "Dark Matter"". Penn State Science. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  5. ^ "Scientists shed some light on biological "dark matter"". Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. 20 January 2014. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  6. ^ van Bakel H, Nislow C, Blencowe BJ, Hughes TR (2010). Eddy SR, ed. "Most "dark matter" transcripts are associated with known genes". PLoS Biol. 8 (5): e1000371. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000371. PMC 2872640. PMID 20502517.
  7. ^ de Koning AP, Gu W, Castoe TA, Batzer MA, Pollock DD (2011). "Repetitive elements may comprise over two-thirds of the human genome". PLoS Genet. 7 (12): e1002384. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002384. PMC 3228813. PMID 22144907.
  8. ^ Maumus F, Quesneville H (2014). "Deep investigation of Arabidopsis thaliana junk DNA reveals a continuum between repetitive elements and genomic dark matter". PLoS ONE. 9 (4): e94101. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094101. PMC 3978025. PMID 24709859.
  9. ^ Wu, D.; Wu, M.; Halpern, A.; Rusch, D. B.; Yooseph, S.; Frazier, M.; Venter, J. C.; Eisen, J. A. (2011). "Stalking the Fourth Domain in Metagenomic Data: Searching for, Discovering, and Interpreting Novel, Deep Branches in Marker Gene Phylogenetic Trees". PLoS ONE. 6 (3): e18011. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0018011. PMC 3060911. PMID 21437252.
  10. ^ Barras, Colin (March 18, 2011). "Biology's 'dark matter' hints at fourth domain of life". New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd. Retrieved August 23, 2015.
  11. ^ Kemsley, Tamarra (13 July 2015). "New Study on "Dark Matter" of Biology Fills in Major Holes in Tree of Life". Nature World News. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  12. ^ Huang, Wei E.; Song, Yizhi; Xu, Jian (28 January 2015). "Single cell biotechnology to shed a light on biological 'dark matter' in nature". Microbial Biotechnology. 8 (1): 15–16. doi:10.1111/1751-7915.12249. PMC 4321360. PMID 25627841.
  13. ^ Lok, Corie (16 June 2015). "Mining the microbial dark matter". Nature News. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  14. ^ Check-Hayden, Erika (14 July 2013). "Researchers glimpse microbial 'dark matter'". Nature News. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  15. ^ Gronstal, Aaron L. (4 November 2011). "Studying Biology's Dark Matter". NASA Astrobiology Institute. Retrieved 2015-09-09.
  16. ^ Rinke, Chris (2015). "What is Microbial Dark Matter and why should we explore it?". Microbial Dark Matter. Retrieved 2015-09-09.