Friday, July 8, 2016

Gene Loss

I have just read an article about gene loss and how gene loss could play an equal if not more of a role in evolution than new genes do in organisms. When talking about genes my mind always thinks back to bio when we did work with dominant and recessive genes, and we made charts to see which genes would be present in the next generation. In particular this article made me think of the time that we put flavored test strips on our tongues in class because only certain people had the gene that allowed them to taste the fowl taste. I was not one of the kids in the class that could taste it, which leads me to believe that somewhere along the line I either lost the ability to through gene loss or simply never acquired that gene.
Something that I found to be particularly interesting in this article is that the researchers hint toward the small difference between humans and primates being linked actually to humans having less genes. In my mind I always assumed more genes the more advanced the organism is, however I guess this is not always the truth. Humans could be smarter than primates because we lost the gene that gave us a bigger jaw and in turn our brains were able to grow in size. That is some information that I have to wrap my brain around.
This article actually made me start to wonder a lot about primates. It was stated that chimpanzees share 98% of their genome with humans. That being said it is crazy to think that a few genes here and there is what separates us. What is it that stops them from loosing or gaining the last few genes to be just like humans? I wonder chimpanzees look at us and know we are very similar, sort of like wolves and dogs do. Is it possible to know exactly what genes the chimpanzees are missing? And if so, is it possible to try and alter their genes so that are just like a human? Could you make a test tube chimpanzee?
Overall I think it is pretty cool that we are finding that it is not always the addition of genes that make us evolve but it is also the loosing of gene that drives evolution.