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“Molecular Insights Into Classic Examples of Evolution” Essay

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Updated: May 11th, 2022

The article “Molecular Insights into Classic Examples of Evolution” attempts to demonstrate how modern advances in molecular biology are challenging the scope of our understanding regarding the concepts of evolution and survival. Current research, as discussed by the symposium speakers explicitly cited in this article, reveals that genetics plays a fundamental role in evolution science and it is indeed the mutation of genes that actually allows organisms to evolve and develop survival tactics. The author cites a classic example of how the common garter snakes have evolved over a short period of time to be able to gain an advantage over their major prey, the newts, even though the prey produces a potent neurotoxin that is capable of killing other animals as well as humans (Hlodan 264). In a sense, the article attempts to draw a correlation between genes and evolution on one side and the ability of organisms to survive within their own natural environments on the other.

The author of this article, through citing presentations made by various speakers in the symposium, also attempts to demonstrate how viruses continue to challenge our basic insights into the evolution and how scientists can make important inferences that may lead to medical breakthroughs by studying how the viruses evolve within our bodies. Indeed, the author uses the examples of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), dengue virus, and influenza viruses to demonstrate how RNA-type viruses evolve to viral DNA, thus rendering unsuccessful any attempts made by scientists to control or kill them. The HIV virus, for instance, evolves at a fast pace from a viral RNA to make Viral DNA, in the process producing many variants of HIV within and among victims. Indeed, it has been revealed in the article that “…the HIV envelope gene accumulates substitutions at a rate of approximately one percent a year [while] the average eukaryotic or prokaryotic gene accumulates that much substitution in about 4 million years, and ribosomal RNA takes approximately 50 million years” (Hlodan 265). It should be remembered that these mutations assist the viruses to survive in their ‘natural environments.’

The discussion in the article continues by examining how coloration in some animals such as the Oldfield mouse affords them the opportunity to survive in their natural environments by enabling them to camouflage and hide from their predators. A butterfly species commonly found in East Africa has evolved false eyespots on its wings to distract its predators away from where its vital parts are located (Hlodan 266-277). It is worth noting that current research done by the speakers during the symposium reveals that genes have a fundamental role to play in triggering the evolution of these color variations.

On personal reflection, it is indeed true that my views on evolution and nature have dramatically changed since enrolling in this course. My knowledge on the topic has expanded, more so in realizing the critical role played by evolutionary perspectives to our survival. It is interesting to note that our environment triggers the capacity of our genes to mutate and occasion some adaptive processes to enhance our survival. The article, in particular, has expanded my knowledge on HIV and why there is currently no cure for the virus. A probable treatment strategy for HIV, in my view, would be for scientists to develop mechanisms that will prevent the HIV envelope gene to evolve from RNA virus to viral DNA. However, this observation is debatable.

Works Cited

Hlodan, D. Molecular Insights into Classic Examples of Evolution. Bioscience 61.4 (2011): 264-267.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Molecular Insights Into Classic Examples of Evolution." May 11, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/molecular-insights-into-classic-examples-of-evolution/.

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