Examples of the existence and purpose of non-coding DNA in nature has been published in Not quite Design Genes.

But how does it apply in the Blind Watchmaker?

An example implementation of our use of non-coding DNA (ncDNA) is presented here.

Within our system, we want to grow organisms with varying cross-sections in beams, e.g. ‘C’ and ‘I’ as well as simpler polygons. We also want a system that is smart enough to recognise and create different cross-sections using a standard ncDNA format. Therefore, we have designed our non-coding DNA to hold just enough information which includes the value of the cross-section gene and its design parameters [1].

The ncDNA gene for a square cross-section is shown in Table 1. The ncDNA is marked at its beginning and end by the same ‘cross-section’ gene to identify its entirety in the genome sequence.

Attribute Value Active On condition Off condition Dominance
cross-section 0 1 hl hu dom
square 0 1 hl hu dom
b δb 1 hl hu dom
d δd 1 hl hu dom
square 1 1 hl hu dom
cross-section 1 1 hl hu dom

Using this ncDNA within the genome, we have developed a function that will, given any regular polygon, map the cross-section type and its design parameters to the geometric entities (vertices) in three dimensional space that will physically define the organism’s cross-section, Figure 1.

Figure 1 Mapping ncDNA cross-section type and design parameters in the Blind Watchmaker

Like tRNA in Not quite Design Genes, our ncDNA is used to help build the cross-sections of our organisms!

[1] Price, MA, Robinson, TT, Soban, D, Murphy, A, Armstrong, CG, McConnell, R & Roy, R 2013, ‘Maintaining design intent for aircraft manufacture’, CIRP Annals – Manufacturing Technology, vol. 62, no. 1, pp. 99-102