From New Scientist:
Hot stuff. For the first time, wild mammals have been seen responding to higher temperatures by altering chemical structures on their DNA. These epigenetic changes may adjust the activity of specific genes, and some are passed on to offspring.
“Global temperatures are rising. It is crucial to understand how wild species are able to cope,” says Alexandra Weyrich of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany.
Evolution by genetic mutation and natural selection can be slow. But epigenetic changes that affect how genes are expressed, such as attaching methyl molecules onto DNA, are much faster and more flexible. Experiments in a type of brine shrimp and the plant Arabidopsis thaliana have shown that such heat-induced epigenetic responses can even be inherited by the next generation. More.
This just in: The selfish gene is having a nervous breakdown. Pirates and bandits are now running his business, and worse, nothing is going wrong.
See also: Researcher: Corals alter their DNA to cope with acidity: Like punctuation marks in an alphabet, this changes the result (proteins made) without altering the original letters (the DNA)
and Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!
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