How much DNA do we share with a banana?
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There is no straightforward answer to this question, as it depends on how you define “sharing” DNA. If we are simply talking about the percentage of identical DNA between humans and bananas, the answer is about 60%. However, if we consider the concept of sharing DNA in a more practical sense – that is, the amount of DNA needed to create a functional banana – the answer is closer to 99.9%. In other words, almost all of the DNA in bananas is essential for their proper function, while only a tiny percentage of our DNA is required for survival.
So, while we share a significant amount of DNA with bananas, most of it is not necessary for our survival. In fact, many of the genes we share with bananas are detrimental to our health. For example, the gene that allows bananas to produce beta-carotene – a precursor to Vitamin A – is also responsible for causing blindness in humans when consumed in large quantities.
Even though we share a lot of DNA with bananas, there are still some significant differences between our two species. For one, we have a much higher percentage of “junk” DNA than they do. DNA does not code for any proteins or perform any known functions. Junk DNA makes up around 98% of our genome!
On the other hand, Bananas have a relatively low percentage of junk DNA. This is likely because their genome is much smaller than ours. In addition, bananas have a much higher rate of repeats in their DNA. These are sections of DNA that are duplicated over and over again.
Repeats are pretty common in genomes and can serve various functions. For example, they can help to stabilise the genome and protect it from mutation. They can also help to conserve space by eliminating the need to store multiple copies of the same sequence.
Despite the many similarities between our DNA and that of bananas, some significant differences still set us apart. These differences help to explain why we are such unique and complex creatures!