Has the U.S. government finally supported creationist research? Alas, no, but the results of a National Institutes of Health study fit squarely within the young-earth creation framework.
Researchers at Cornell University report in PLoS Biology the results of a genetic examination of fruit flies (“Species-Specific Heterochromatin Prevents Mitotic Chromosome Segregation to Cause Hybrid Lethality in Drosophila”). The scientists learned that “junk” DNA can be responsible for rendering two otherwise closely related species unable to interbreed.
The team examined cross-breeds between the closely related fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans. The flies are closely related, and male D. melanogaster can breed with female D. simulans to produce viable male offspring. Female offspring of such a cross, however, die as embryos. The question is, why? Lead author Patrick Ferree calls it an “unsolved problem,” elaborating, “What are the elements that are killing these female hybrids and how are they doing that?”
By looking more closely at the genetic composition of the D. melanogaster x D. simulans embryos, the scientists found a specific DNA segment that appears only in the father fly’s X chromosome and that leads to embryo death. Because only female offspring receive an X chromosome from their father (males receive a Y chromosome), only the female cross-breeds die.
The location of the fatal DNA segment was in the male X chromosome’s heterochromatin, a region full of what is sometimes called “junk” DNA.