Genetic Variations

Genetic Variations

Genetic Variation

  • Genetic variation is a term used to describe the variation in the DNA sequence in each of our genomes.
  • It is responsible for differences in physical characteristics, response to diseases and even behavioural characteristics among individuals within a species.
  • Genetic variation is crucial for the survival of a species, as it helps members of the species to adapt to changes in their environment.

Sources of Genetic Variation

  • Mutation is a change in the DNA sequence. It is a random process that can lead to a new variant of a gene, or an allele.
  • Sexual reproduction is another source of genetic variation. During reproduction, genetic information from two parents is combined to form offspring. This combination of genes leads to new characteristics in the offspring.
  • Genetic variation can also occur during meiosis. In this process, the number of chromosomes is halved and the remaining chromosomes can be shuffled before being passed on to the offspring. This process of shuffling is also known as genetic recombination, or crossing over.

Effects of Genetic Variation

  • Genetic variation can lead to physical differences like height, eye colour, and skin colour.
  • It can also affect an individual’s susceptibility to diseases, with some genetic variants providing resistance to certain diseases.
  • In terms of evolution, genetic variation can lead to the development of new species through the process of speciation. This involves the separation of a species into two separate species that cannot interbreed.

Studying Genetic Variation

  • Scientists study genetic variation to understand more about diseases, how species evolve, and how we could potentially use this information in medicine and agriculture.
  • This is often done using techniques like DNA sequencing and genome mapping. These technologies can determine the order of DNA bases in a genome and locate specific genes on a chromosome respectively.
  • Understanding genetic variation can also contribute to conservation efforts by revealing the level of genetic diversity within a species population. A low level of genetic variation could indicate a small population size, which is more vulnerable to extinction.