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← Europe to map the human epigenome

kriton's Avatar Jump to comment 12 by kriton

It is very plausible that epigenetic mechanisms is a way to adapt in the short term. For example, if there is a change in the environment so that food becomes more scarce or abundant this could affect how genes involved in metabolism are expressed. Those epigenetic changes could be inherited, and they could be beneficial for the offspring.

Having an ability for short-term adaptation would be beneficial, so one would expect evolution to produce such mechanisms. However, other than that, does all this have any long-term effects on evolution? And if so, are those effects important or marginal? We don't know this yet. At least, I don't :) There is a lack of evidence for important long-term effects, but who knows what the future brings.

But the bottom line is that even if there would be such effects, it would not mean that genetic evolution is suddenly unimportant or "Darwin was wrong" or anything like that. It would just be an additional mechanism. New findings in biology often adds more complexity to our models.

Sat, 01 Oct 2011 20:58:27 UTC | #877015