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Biogeography: Kary Mullis’ Development Essay

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Updated: Mar 1st, 2022

If the Nobel Prize in Biogeography were to be instituted, Kary Mullis should win it. Admittedly, the man was already a winner in chemistry for inventing the polymerase chain reaction mechanism, but it is worth pointing out that this method of processing genetic molecules has been incredibly important in biogeographic research as well (Grens, 2019). The identification of biological material during the study of local and co-located biocenosis is of serious importance to biogeographers. This is justified because in-depth studies require the testing of established hypotheses, so additional molecular expertise is needed to obtain reliable data regarding finding the causes of dispersal, isolated evolutionary development, and predicting and modeling biological processes. It often happens that found material — especially if it concerns archaeological excavations — has a critically low amount of DNA so that precise identification of the species is impossible. However, through the use of PCR technology developed by Kary Mullis, the amount of genetic material can be greatly increased.

The polymerase chain reaction refers to a molecular biology technique that allows significant increases in small concentrations of certain nucleic acid fragments (DNA or RNA) in biological material. It seems clear that this technology has a high potential for biogeographical studies because PCR allows not only the foundation remains of flora and fauna to be examined and systematized according to biological classification (Jafari et al., 2018). On the contrary, PCR opens up a wide range of actions that facilitate the modern biogeographer’s work. In particular, the method finds application in the phylogenetic analysis of two divergent populations to establish their relatedness. If a high-positive match is found, the specialist can assert a relatively recent dispersal of the species. On the other hand, thanks to PCR modifications, isolation, and manipulation of individual genes can be performed instead of amplification. This includes isolation of new genes, determination of the type of mutation (compared to a reference), or microbiological testing to determine the influence of environmental factors. To summarize the above, it is critical to note that many biogeography studies would not have been possible without Kary Mullis’ development, and therefore he would have deserved the corresponding Nobel Prize.


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