Big Picture Science – DNA is Not Destiny

by Gary Niederhoff on October 15, 2018


Big Picture Science – DNA is Not Destiny

Heredity was once thought to be straightforward. Genes were passed in an immutable path from parents to you, and you were stuck – or blessed – with what you got. DNA didn’t change.

But now we know that’s not true. Epigenetic factors, such as your environment and your lifestyle, control how your genes are expressed. Meanwhile, the powerful tool CRISPR allows us to tinker with the genes themselves. DNA is no longer destiny.

Hear the results from the NASA twin study and what happened to astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA after a year on the International Space Station. Plus, whether there’s evidence that epigenetic changes can be passed down. And, if we can wipe out deadly malaria by engineering the mosquito genome for sterility, should we do it?

Listen to individual segments here:
Part 1: Mark Kelly and Christopher Mason / DNA in Space
Part 2: Carl Zimmer / Space Epigenetics
Part 3: Nicole Gladish / DNA Methylation
Part 4: Michael Snyder / Epigenetic Influence
Part 5: Carl Zimmer / Altering DNA

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Liz Morgan October 19, 2018 at 7:39 pm

While I enjoyed this episode, and enjoy this show, I often find that the off hand comments can be very inaccurate. Please, be aware, Darwin knew nothing of genes or genetics. He, in fact, embraced pangenisis and believed that Lamarkian change was a possible way variation could be introduced into a species. Darwin’s great achievement was the discovery of natural selection, the mechanism by which most evolutionary change takes place. He understood very little about how heredity actually works.

avatar Richard October 24, 2018 at 5:21 pm

If natural selection is one of the ways that evolutionary change takes place, what are the other ways? Artificial selection? Is this not only short term? In natural selection traits that cause greater reproductive success of an organism, in a particular environment, are selected for. If humans select a particular trait, then is this a part of synergistic evolution, but natural selection nonetheless? Humans, and the organisms cultivated by humans, considered as part of co-evolution. Humans are after all part of nature and not separate from it. If we manipulate our environment, then so do ants and bees. We just do it on a grander scale.

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