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dna replication
dna sequences
genetic variation
theory of evolution
genetic factor
passage of time
How Genetics Leads To Evolution
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Evolution is a gradual process that takes place in populations of organisms and selects the organisms that are best fit for their environment. Via natural selection, organisms with advantageous traits, which enhance their ability to survive, are able to reproduce. By reproducing, these advantageous traits are passed along to offspring who will use these traits to survive in their environment. Evolution can be seen across multiple generations as changes in frequency of genes and alleles, known as genetic drift, lead to genetic changes within populations of organisms.

The theory of evolution explains how groups of organisms change with the passage of time. These changes are made possible by genetic variation within a species. As not all individuals of a species are exactly the same, genetic differences within their DNA provide variation in morphology, physiology, and behavior. Depending on the environment, these variations among species can be favor, disfavor, or be neutral for the organism.

Heredity is a genetic factor important to evolution as it is a process which involves the passing of traits from parent to offspring. As traits are inherited from a parent, variation that disfavors the species’ ability to survive will not be passed down to offspring. However, organisms with advantageous traits and characteristics reproduce. Thus, the frequency of advantageous traits will increase over time. Variation displayed by individuals ultimately accumulates causing species to evolve.

Mutations are what cause variation among species and give rise to genetic diversity. Though mutations are rare, they occur randomly and are inevitable. With the development of new technology, we can now study evolution at the molecular level. This ability to examine DNA sequences allowed us to see what happens genetically during evolution. Mutations can occur as a result of errors in DNA replication, meiosis, radiation, viruses, and transposon. Changes in genomic sequence of DNA can occur from mutation in by single amino acid substitutions. Just one amino acid substitution can change the function of an entire protein. Much of molecular evolution has to do with the replacement of one protein sequence by another equivalent function. With these changes in genotype, phenotypic changes or observable characteristic changes occur. Phenotypes express the organism’s genes and influence the effect of environmental factors on the organism.

All life on Earth has originated and evolved from a common ancestor. By comparing DNA sequences between species, we can see how speciation and divergence has occurred. Life on Earth started as prokaryotes dominated the planet around 3-4 billion years ago. Over time more complex organisms have evolved and will continue to do so as long as there is an environment habitable for life.

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