Epigenetics: DNA Isn’t Everything

Epigenetics: DNA Isn’t Everything

ScienceDaily — Research into epigenetics has shown that environmental factors affect characteristics of organisms. These changes are sometimes passed on to the offspring. ETH professor Renato Paro does not believe that this opposes Darwin’s theory of evolution.

A certain laboratory strain of the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has white eyes. If the surrounding temperature of the embryos, which are normally nurtured at 25 degrees Celsius, is briefly raised to 37 degrees Celsius, the flies later hatch with red eyes. If these flies are again crossed, the following generations are partly red-eyed – without further temperature treatment – even though only white-eyed flies are expected according to the rules of genetics.

Environment affects inheritance

Researchers in a group led by Renato Paro, professor for Biosystems at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE), crossed the flies for six generations. In this experiment, they were able to prove that the temperature treatment changes the eye colour of this specific strain of fly, and that the treated individual flies pass on the change to their offspring over several generations. However, the DNA sequence for the gene responsible for eye colour was proven to remain the same for white-eyed parents and red-eyed offspring.

The concept of epigenetics offers an explanation for this result. Epigenetics examines the inheritance of characteristics that are not set out in the DNA sequence. For Paro, epigenetic mechanisms form an additional, paramount level of information to the genetic information of DNA.

Sumber : Science Daily
Informasi lengkap dapat diakses di:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090412081315.htm

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