Changes in the Hereditary Instructions Allow Evolution

Despite the near-perfect fidelity of genetic replication, infrequent, unrepaired mistakes in the DNA replication process lead to changes in the nucleotide sequence of DNA, producing a genetic mutation (Fig. 1-32) and changing the instructions for some cellular component. Incorrectly repaired damage to one of the DNA strands has the same effect. Mutations in the DNA handed down

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FIGURE 1-32 Role of mutation in evolution. The gradual accumulation of mutations over long periods of time results in new biological species, each with a unique DNA sequence. At the top is shown a short segment of a gene in a hypothetical progenitor organism. With the passage of time, changes in nucleotide sequence (mutations, indicated here by colored boxes), occurring one nucleotide at a time, result in progeny with different DNA sequences. These mutant progeny also undergo occasional mutations, yielding their own progeny that differ by two or more nucleotides from the progenitor sequence. When two lineages have diverged so much in their genetic makeup that they can no longer interbreed, a new species has been created.

FIGURE 1-32 Role of mutation in evolution. The gradual accumulation of mutations over long periods of time results in new biological species, each with a unique DNA sequence. At the top is shown a short segment of a gene in a hypothetical progenitor organism. With the passage of time, changes in nucleotide sequence (mutations, indicated here by colored boxes), occurring one nucleotide at a time, result in progeny with different DNA sequences. These mutant progeny also undergo occasional mutations, yielding their own progeny that differ by two or more nucleotides from the progenitor sequence. When two lineages have diverged so much in their genetic makeup that they can no longer interbreed, a new species has been created.

to offspring—that is, mutations that are carried in the reproductive cells—may be harmful or even lethal to the organism; they may, for example, cause the synthesis of a defective enzyme that is not able to catalyze an essential metabolic reaction. Occasionally, however, a mutation better equips an organism or cell to survive in its environment. The mutant enzyme might have acquired a slightly different specificity, for example, so that it is now able to use some compound that the cell was previously unable to metabolize. If a population of cells were to find itself in an environment where that compound was the only or the most abundant available source of fuel, the mutant cell would have a selective advantage over the other, unmutated (wild-type) cells in the population. The mutant cell and its progeny would survive and prosper in the new environment, whereas wild-type cells would starve and be eliminated. This is what Darwin meant by "survival of the fittest under selective pressure."

Occasionally, a whole gene is duplicated. The second copy is superfluous, and mutations in this gene will not be deleterious; it becomes a means by which the cell may evolve: by producing a new gene with a new function while retaining the original gene and gene function. Seen in this light, the DNA molecules of modern organisms are historical documents, records of the long journey from the earliest cells to modern organisms. The historical accounts in DNA are not complete; in the course of evolution, many mutations must have been erased or written over. But DNA molecules are the best source of biological history that we have.

Several billion years of adaptive selection have refined cellular systems to take maximum advantage of the chemical and physical properties of the molecular raw materials for carrying out the basic energy-transforming and self-replicating activities of a living cell. Chance genetic variations in individuals in a population, combined with natural selection (survival and reproduction of the fittest individuals in a challenging or changing environment), have resulted in the evolution of an enormous variety of organisms, each adapted to life in its particular ecological niche.

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Diabetes 2

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  • Salvia
    How changes in hereditary instructions allow evolution?
    3 years ago
  • russell shannon
    How does changes in the hereditary instruction allows evolution?
    3 years ago
  • Louisa
    How change in hereditary instruction allow for evolution?
    3 years ago

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