Yesterday, while browsing the web, I stumbled upon this short article which claims that we humans share about 60% of our DNA with bananas. Purportedly, we share about the same amount with chicken, too.
While I believe without further doubt that we are similar to chimps (96%), I was intrigued about our heritage shared with the yellow fruit. Let’s ignore the whole new chapter of issues that this opens for vegans, and have a look at the facts.
Unfortunately, the article mentioned above doesn’t cite any sources. While searching the interwebs for answers, I found some interesting math and misconceptions regarding percentage of shared DNA. When we say we share some DNA with another organism, it doesn’t mean that it is completely identical in the shared parts, just that the DNA sequence can be aligned by functionality. So humans share 100% of their genes with other humans, but the genes itself might still be different from each other, other versions so to speak.
Both bananas and humans are eukaryotes. Hence, much of the basic metabolism and cell machinery is largely the same. All those same functions will be encoded by proteins which share a clear kinship between humans and bananas.
These genes make up the very basic functionality of our cells and chemistry. The fact that you have a nose, eyes, and a brain, and the banana doesn’t, might be of paramount importance to the observer, but doesn’t actually make up most of our DNA as it seems.
P.S.: Also, I found this article which describes how to extract DNA from a Banana in your Kitchen.