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Are Humans 50% Bananas?



Have you ever read on the Internet that human beings share 40% to 50% of our DNA with bananas? Is it true that we have so much in common with a fruit?


The correct answer is that we actually share 40% to 50% of our genes with bananas! You can only share 50% of your DNA with your parents and your children.


Genes make up only 2% of our DNA. They determine physical traits such as eye colour and hair colour. They are also involved in cell processes that we need to survive, like making energy and repairing damage, which is what also goes on in banana plants.


DNA and genes work together to keep our bodies functioning. So while it may be accurate to claim that humans and bananas share 40% to 50% of genes, the fact is that we only share 1% of our DNA with bananas!


Ensuring information we read is accurate


This myth is a good example of how quickly rumours can spread on the Internet and be accepted as fact. Believing this particular myth about bananas might be harmless, but not every myth is harmless. With the Internet, we have the ability to find information at our fingertips. However, it is also not regulated, therefore it is much easier for rumours and misinformation to spread.


So how do we ensure that the information we are reading is accurate and credible? Here are some tips:


  • Go to the source directly. Check if the information is published by recognised institutions (E.g. National Human Genome Research Institute) or reputable newspapers.

  • Check out the “About Us” section of websites to get more information about the writers and organisations involved.

  • Fact-check stories that seem suspicious by searching elsewhere on the Internet. This will help verify if the information is factual or has been debunked as fake news.


Why do scientists study the DNA of fruits?


Studying the DNA of bananas and other fruits, such as kiwis and strawberries, can help scientists identify positive traits such as virus resistance. If a plant has virus-resistant genes in its DNA, scientists can explore if it can be combined with the DNA and genes of other plants. This can help produce a bigger diversity of crops and plants.


References


Garland, Sarah, and Helen Anne Curry. “Turning Promise into Practice: Crop Biotechnology for Increasing Genetic Diversity and Climate Resilience.” PLoS biology. U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 26, 2022. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9321377/.


“How Do You Check the Reliability of Sources of Information?” S.U.R.E. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://sure.nlb.gov.sg/tng/surevivors-activity4/.


“How to Spot Fake News: Tips to Teach Kids: Parents: Nat Geo Kids.” National Geographic Kids, March 21, 2023. https://www.natgeokids.com/uk/parents/how-to-spot-fake-news/.


“Is That a Banana in Your Genes?: The Gene: An Intimate History.” PBS LearningMedia. The Gene: An Intimate History, July 26, 2021.

https://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/is-that-a-banana-in-your-genes-animation/is-that-a-banana-in-your-genes-animation-ken-burns-the-gene/.


“Mythconception: We Share Half Our DNA with Bananas.” Interviews | Naked Scientists. Accessed March 30, 2023. https://www.thenakedscientists.com/articles/interviews/mythconception-we-share-half-our-dna-bananas


Zaidi, Syed Shan-e-Ali, Ahmed Mahas, Hervé Vanderschuren, and Magdy M. Mahfouz. “Engineering Crops of the Future: CRISPR Approaches to Develop Climate-Resilient and Disease-Resistant Plants - Genome Biology.” BioMed Central. BioMed Central, November 30, 2020. https://genomebiology.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13059-020-02204-y.

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