What is Satellite DNA?
Satellite DNA (or mini satelite DNA) is a term used to refer to any type of small piece of material that contains genetic material from several different species. These pieces are usually microscopic and have been found in various places around the world. They include bacteria, viruses, fungi, algae and even plants.
The first time anyone noticed these tiny pieces was in the 1960’s when they were discovered in Antarctica. Since then it has become apparent that there are many types of them all over the planet. The size of these pieces range from a few base pairs (building blocks of DNA) to thousands. These range from single unit repeats, small non-coding pieces (also known as introns) and other various forms.
Where is Satellite DNA Found?
Most satellite DNA has been found in habitats where conditions are extreme, such as the high mountains and frigid arctic. They have been found at all of the continents highest points as well as in other isolated, cold locations. It has also been found in the thickest and most isolated jungles in the world.
Most of the time, the satellite DNA is found near the surface of whatever it has infected. Very little of it has been found in the deeper parts of the world’s oceans. Most of these satellites are incredibly small, making them very hard to find despite the fact that they are out in the open. The largest ones have been found in single celled algae and other similar life forms. In most cases, they can only be seen with a microscope.
How Does it Affect Other Life Forms?
Most satellites don’t seem to do much of anything to the hosts they infect. In the majority of cases, they just sit there and do nothing. In some cases, however, they seem to make the host live longer or react differently to their environment. There are also several cases where they have caused mild, temporary effects on a hosts behavior. For example, there is a common satellite that causes infected ants to become attracted to light. There are also cases where infected fruit flies die faster than they would otherwise.
Why Do We Have Them?
The simplest explanation is that these satellites are just another result of millions of years of evolution. As different species evolved and spread across the globe they picked up pieces of DNA from others they infected. Since many organisms don’t just infect others straight away, it is very possible that some of these extra bits of DNA have just been hanging around in their bodies.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Research into satellites is still in the very early stages and we know very little about them. There has been some research done in order to see if any of them have a purpose, but the results of this have been inconclusive. There have been some studies that show a few rare types have some effect on the hosts, but none of these are particularly important. The bulk just seem to get ignored by the host.
Research into satellites is important for a few reasons. The first being that we are still trying to find all of them. As of right now, we have only found a few percent of existing types and we have no way of knowing if we have found all the types that affect humans. The second reason is that we want to find out if any of them are potentially harmful. The fact that these pieces of DNA have been sitting around in our genome for so long without doing anything suggests that they are harmless.
However, it is possible that we might find something that has been affecting us all and doesn’t know it.
Would you like to know if you had alien DNA inside you?
It is very unlikely that you are a alien or have alien DNA in you. In fact, the chances are so low that I am not going to bother running the test. The chances of you having alien DNA are so low that running the test would be a waste of money. The test itself is very expensive and the cost would be better spent trying to find out what that weird satellite is doing in your lung.
If you still want to pay for the test, turn to page 114.
I didn’t think so.
I have to say I’m impressed that you even made it this far given that you are most likely a normal human with no alien DNA. I’m also impressed that you’re still reading through all of this. You must really love reading. I can think of worse things. Like killing people, for example.
Unless you’re a serial killer, in which case I suggest getting help.
Okay, since you made it this far, I’ll reward your persistence by letting you pick a prize out of my prize box!
Written by Catprog on Sun, 01 Jul 2006
You are free to choose any item as your reward. They may be helpful in the future…or not.
You have 8 minutes to choose.
You have won a Broken Clock. When you look at it, it says “It’s five o’clock.” You look at it again a minute later and it says “It’s five o’clock.” You look at it another minute later and it says “It’s five o’clock.” Over and over again.
It’s not an extremely fancy or expensive clock, but it still looks cool on your desk.
You have won a Sweet Heart. It’s a pretty pink heart made out of some kind of stone. It’s hard yet still soft. When you squeeze it, it makes a squeaking noise.
You have won a VHS Tape. The label has been ripped off but it’s a normal size VHS tape. When you play it, the video is all distorted and a single beep is heard every few seconds.
You have won an Old Cooler. It’s an old red cooler with a few holes in it and some of the paint is chipping off. It’s fairly large, about the size of a medium dog. The inside is still clean and there’s even a small shelf on the inside.
Well, that’s it! Thanks for playing! You may take your prize now.
Back to pages.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Heterochromatin and satellite DNA in man: properties and prospects. (GL Miklos, B John – American journal of human genetics, 1979 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Functional aspects of satellite DNA and heterochromatin (B John, GLG Miklos – International review of cytology, 1979 – Elsevier)
- Heterochromatin, satellite DNA, and cell function (JJ Yunis, WG Yasmineh – Science, 1971 – science.sciencemag.org)
- Variation in satellite DNA profiles—causes and effects (Ð Ugarković, M Plohl – The EMBO journal, 2002 – embopress.org)
- Chromosomal localization of mouse satellite DNA (ML Pardue, JG Gall – Science, 1970 – science.sciencemag.org)
- Satellite Dna (T Beridze – 2013 – books.google.com)
- Origin of satellite DNA (PMB Walker – Nature, 1971 – Springer)