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1Darwin In the Genome - Book review

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  • Christopher W. Ashcraft
    Dec 6, 2002
      A mutation is a random unintentional change of the genome. However,
      if the changes we detect are not randomly distributed, they are not
      mutations at all, but more likely a change produced intentionally
      through genetic recombination.




      Darwin In the Genome: As evidence builds up from studies of the
      genomes of various species, it's beginning to seem that mutations
      aren't always random: they occur more often in some genes than in
      others. Genes that make proteins involved in the simple chores of
      cellular housekeeping can be virtually identical in widely different
      species. But those that may give a selective edge - such as those
      coding for the toxins used by predatory sea snails to catch their
      prey - change rapidly from generation to generation. In Darwin in the
      Genome, Lynn Caporale explains the many ways that organisms shuffle
      the DNA pack to deal a winning hand. The nomadic chunks of DNA known
      as transposons and even the repeat sequences once dismissed as "junk"
      now seem to be mechanisms for generating this genetic variety, she
      says. Caporale, a biotechnology consultant working in New York,
      subtitles her book "Molecular strategies in biological evolution",
      but rejects any suggestion that its contents undermine classical
      Darwinian theory. The term "strategy" is not used to imply that the
      process is driven by a preordained plan, as creationists would argue.
      Rather, she says, it is used to indicate mechanisms that "have the
      effect of anticipating and responding to challenges and opportunities
      that continue to emerge in the environment".