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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! That's really interesting. I had the same thoughts as you when you wrote that there no correlation between gene numbers and smartness. I understand that out brains could have been able to grow better because of our lack of a larger jaw gene. I wonder if this is the case for other things, including leg length, foot length, etc., and how much different we would be with/without these mutations.
    As for our separation from chimpanzees, I found a few cool facts after looking up their gene/DNA history. I remember from biology a few years ago that we have 23 chromosomes. Chimps have 24. It is thought that humans lost this chromosome because we fused two small ones together. Researchers have also found that the telomeres on the chromosomes in chimpanzees have more DNA pairs than we do, having about 23 kilomeres (or 23,000 base pairs of DNA) to our mere 10. Lastly, I found in my research that humans and chimpanzees have nearly all "virtually identical" chromosomes except for numbers 4, 9, and 12. This is thought to be a really big part in what separates us from chimpanzees.
    If you want to check it out, here is an amazing website I found that clarified a lot of my questions. Cool stuff!