Evolution and the tree of life can be understood with an accuracy that Charles Darwin could not even dream of.
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This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884), which is duly celebrated in many countries. Today Mendel is considered one of the greatest scientific names on the basis of his extensive experiments with pea plants, which were given in 1865 by two famous lectures at Brøn (present-day Brno in the Czech Republic), which was the following year. It was published under the title “Versuche über Pflanzen- The hybrid” (“Experiments in Plant Hybridization”).
Together with another famous contemporary, Charles Darwin (1809-1882), they can be said to have ushered in the era of biology 160 years ago and that a shared vision of how evolution and genetics are related is fundamental to understanding all life and diversity today.
Understanding Darwin It was the process of evolution itself and that the genetic mechanism was necessary, and it was Mendel who introduced this genetic mechanism on the basis of careful hybrid breeding experiments with pea plants, and thus he received the title of “Father of Genetics”.
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It is this combination of Darwin and Mendel’s insights that provides the scientific basis for understanding all life and diversity, and has provided important insights into medicine and the agricultural sciences.
200 years after Mendel’s birth, the double helix of the DNA molecule has become the most famous symbol of science. Today, DNA and genetics are central to both biological and medical research, and they are also gaining increasing practical applications in everything from genealogy to forensics. There is no crime without a DNA profile check.
Most of them At one time or another, he became familiar with Mendel’s laws of genetics and experienced cross-breeding forms in biology tests. Many also gained insight into the structure of the DNA molecule and the flow of information from DNA to proteins that became known about 100 years after Mendel presented his findings.
Few, however, have an overview of what Mendel’s modern legacy entails, for genetic research is a field that is undergoing its own development so rapidly that a complete overview is not given.
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This amount of “lying in genes” is a common realization, at the same time that it is not trivial to determine what a gene actually is, because while all genes are made up of DNA, DNA is not necessarily equal to genes. To take ourselves as an example, less than 2% of our genome (the sum of our genetic material) is made up of protein-coding genes.
We still know Not why we and other organisms cling to so much of our so-called “useless” DNA. It is also the case that different organisms stick to very different amounts of DNA, and one might wonder why a simple lungfish has 40 times more DNA in its cells than ours.
Life is diverse in every sense of the word, but the visible diversity and the organisms themselves are just the tip of the iceberg of massive genetic diversity. Comprehensive analyzes of DNA from natural ecosystems (metagenomic analyses) are now crucial for discovering the diversity in nature and the microbial diversity in our digestive system. It is of great importance for health and metabolism.
And of course for a few thousand dollars we can examine our own genome, where we come from, who we relate to, to some extent disease risk and other things – if we want.
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evolutionary processes It’s no longer a “black box”, the time for “missing links” is over. Perhaps one of the most fascinating things is how fossil DNA fragments, often tens of thousands of years old, can help us unravel the evolutionary history of the past.
For example, we can now study in detail the genetic similarities between Neanderthals and ourselves, we separated about 500,000 years ago, but coexisted long enough that most of us could carry a small percentage of Neanderthal genes – something we shouldn’t be ashamed of.
The methods and possibilities in this field are increasing with accelerating speed, and distances from science fiction to science are shrinking. What was a utopia two decades ago is routine today. We are now revealing the code of life, genes, and gene expression in more and more organisms. Evolution and the tree of life can be understood with an accuracy that Darwin could never have dreamed of.
then it It is known that all life forms are based on the same four-letter genetic alphabet. This makes it possible in principle for all living things to read each other’s DNA, and this can be used (and still is) by transferring DNA between organisms. Precise editing tools have opened up entirely new possibilities for alteration and improvement (here some would say “improvement”) of the characteristics of most organisms.
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Perhaps this is part of the solution to the significant challenges associated with the new needs for food and medicine? Artificial life also opens up completely new possibilities. Today, one can largely design cells that can act as biochemical or biological plants for almost any product.
One area in which it is clear that ideas about genetics and genetics are part of the solution is medical research and treatment — not least when it comes to cancer. What goes wrong with DNA when we get cancer? How can we avoid this and possibly fix it? To what extent is the genetic predisposition itself considered hereditary, and how dependent is it on the environment?
maybe So that future therapy largely reflects the fact that we are genetically unique individuals and that the result of this will be a uniquely individual therapy. Above all, this research provides entirely new insights, many of them quite astonishing, regarding the structure and function of our DNA.
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There are many opportunities and answers here, but few conclusions. All new insights open up a wealth of new possibilities and applications. This concerns fundamental issues in terms of life in general, the human being as a species and all of us and our descendants.
was a mandel Who started this adventurous development in many ways 160 years ago, and there is no telling where it will lead us in 160 years.
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