This is a really remarkable discovery, which throws all of population genetics into question. It will have to be rethought.
Here’s part of the author’s own surprise:
“It’s shocking that we can see dsRNA cross generational boundaries. Our results provide a concrete mechanism for how the environment in one generation could affect the next generation,” Jose said. “But it’s doubly surprising to see that a parent can transmit the information to silence a gene it doesn’t have.”
Oh, my. Another day, and another bad day for Darwinism.
From the abstract:
These results demonstrate the transport of extracellular RNA from one generation to the next to regulate gene expression in an animal and thus suggest a mechanism for the transmission of experience-dependent effects between generations.
Lamarck must be smiling. jerry, what do you think?
I just now read this:
In a surprising turn of events, some of the dsRNA molecules could not silence genes in the parent because the dsRNA sequence did not match any of the parent’s genes. But the dsRNA molecules did silence genes in the offspring, when the new worm gained a copy of the matching gene from its other parent. This suggests that, in some cases, gene silencing by dsRNA might be able to skip an entire generation.
This is a real head-scratcher. I believe they are taking the wrong angle on this. I think the ds-RNA works in conjunction with other epigenetic factors to bring about the “silencing.” This makes more sense from an “design” perspective. So, here you have it: a prediction.
P.S.: Go to the linked press release and watch the video. Again, it’s quite remarkable what they see. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
P.P.S.: Just to shock everyone (including myself), this mode of transmission makes one think of the type of inheritance Darwin suggested back in the 1860’s, where he thought each ‘type of cell’ sent some inheritable matter to the germ cell. This isn’t near being that at all; but, nonetheless, there is a similarity.
[BTW: I’ll be out of commission for a while. Surgical procedure.]