From “Social Stress Changes Immune System Gene Expression in Primates” (ScienceDaily, Apr. 9, 2012), we learn,
The ranking of a monkey within her social environment and the stress accompanying that status dramatically alters the expression of nearly 1,000 genes, a new scientific study reports. The research is the first to demonstrate a link between social status and genetic regulation in primates on a genome-wide scale, revealing a strong, plastic link between social environment and biology.
In a comparison of high-ranking rhesus macaque females with their low-ranking companions, researchers discovered significant differences in the expression of genes involved in the immune response and other functions. When a female’s rank improved, her gene expression also changed within a few weeks, suggesting that social forces can rapidly influence genetic regulation.
The overall genetic “signature” of expression changes was robust enough that researchers could predict an individual monkey’s social rank with high accuracy from their gene expression profile alone. That predictive power also enabled an unanticipated second test of whether gene expression would reflect unplanned changes in dominance rank.
“It was a fortunate event in the experiment,” Gilad said. “When a couple of animals were removed from cages for various reasons and new ones were introduced to the groups, it turned out to improve the rank of a few monkeys. We could take advantage of this switch and see if our classifier still works.”
By analyzing blood samples from these monkeys before and after their move, the researchers were able to use gene expression signatures to correctly predict the change in rank for six of seven monkeys. The result demonstrates that socially-induced gene expression changes are not stable, but can change rapidly in response to changes in social environment.
These are clearly not Darwinist genes. They are too easily acted on by chance events.
And it is not clear what influence they have on evolution, because the events that trigger the changes in expression may themselves be superseded by other events. Or they may not.