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Thread: Does Environment Influence Genes?

  1. #1 Does Environment Influence Genes? 
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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard i_feel_tiredsleepy's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    Yes, of course we've known for a little while now that genes are effected by the environment. Epigenetics is a vibrant field of research in biology and medicine at the moment.

    Whether the environment can influence genetic changes in a way of causing some sort of new inheritable epigenetic change is not known. It could theoretically be possible, but the lack of evidence so far would suggest if such a thing occurs, it may be exceedingly rare.

    Edit: And be wary of construing the possibility of Lamarckism from the possibility of epigenetic inheritance. Just because some sort of environmental factor may cause an inheritable change, apart from change in the DNA sequence, does not mean that working out will make your children stronger, or that giraffes stretching their necks for higher leaves made their offspring have longer necks. Lamarck was simply wrong, he knew nothing about how inheritance actually occurred, though to be fair that wasn't really his fault.

    "I almost went to bed
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    I put in the button-hole
    of your green sweater

    and how i kissed you then
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    shy as though I'd
    never been your lover "
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  4. #3  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
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    Nov 2008
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    There are examples that could be called epigenetic inheritance. For example : babies born when the mother was malnourished during pregnancy will show problems later in life, such as easy obesity and the harmful effects accompanying that.

    This was studied in detail using WWII Dutch mothers (malnourished since the Germans took so much of their harvest), and their children. The study has now gone to the second generation, who also show the same, albeit reduced, vulnerability to those conditions.

    Of course, we have no evidence that epigenetic inheritance can proceed beyond two generations in humans. I suspect it will not.
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  5. #4  
    Yes, in fact the relationship between environment and genetics is the most important theory in extant biology: the theory of evolution.
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