junk DNA (1963)

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat Oct 19 23:38:44 UTC 2013

The first OED cite for "junk DNA" (in a Feb. '05 addition to "junk")
is from 1972. Dan Graur, a biology professor at the University of
Houston, points to a 1963 citation in this blog post:


Charles Ehret and Gérard de Haller (1963), Journal of Ultrastructure
Research, p. 39:
"While current evidence makes plausible the idea that all genetic
material is DNA (with the possible exception of RNA viruses), it does
not follow that all DNA is competent genetic material (viz. ‘junk’
DNA), nor that all Feulgen-positive material is active DNA."

A commenter also notes a 1960 cite that might deserve brackets:

Year Book of the Carnegie Institution, July 1, 1959-June 30, 1960, p. 278
"It is much more difficult to imagine how the different DNA's could
act as templates for the similar RNA's. This is the problem that can
be avoided most easily by considering a large part of the DNA to be


Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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