Gene Loss= Genetic Change??

I found the article: Researchers Highlight Gene Loss as Potential Process of Genetic Change, Evolutionary Adaption to be quite interesting and highlighted some points that I have never thought of before. The main focus of this article was that gene loss is a form of evolution which many people seem to overlook. A gene loss can be categorized two different ways: the genome is physically removed through either recombination or transposition or it is still physically in the genome, but has lacked its ability to function due to mutation. This theory is interesting because when we think of a species evolving, we think the species is gaining some new ability to fend off a certain disease, or reducing the jaw muscular structure.
The tricky part is when a gene is considered “dispensable” and how many genes that a living organism can lose and still be healthy. Perhaps the most interesting part of this article to me was the section which discussed the similarities in the genomes between chimpanzees and human beings. Now the interesting piece of evidence is that humans and chimps, share approximately 98% of their genome. This piece of evidence leads a person to wonder about the differences in the genes which each species has lost, and the differences in those. Many believe that gene loss reduced the jaws muscular structure, which gave the brain more room to grow to the necessary size for a human.
This article really made me think about evolution in a completely different way. For some reason, I always assumed that for something to evolve, that it must gain a certain gene or alter a gene that was already present. Clearly I was not very educated on evolution and the processes of it, so this article was quite satisfying for me.

Comments

  1. It's interesting to know how theories of evolution are very different and complex. I can definitely say that I'm in the same boat as you with assuming that when something evolves it gains certain genes. Using humans as an example we don't necceraily need our wisdom teeth, like we would of many years ago... Which could result in us possible losing that gene and never gaining wisdom teeth. So I guess that relates to gene loss in a why right?

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  2. I too found it interesting how similar we humans are to chimps in respect to our genetic make up. It is crazy to think about how such a small difference in our genetics has lead us down two different paths. I also thought that for a species to evolve it must gain genes. Until reading this article I had never thought of losing genes as a advantage. I think that it would be cool figure out how many genes a human could lose to still be functioning.

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