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Peter Taranto


Chapter 16 Notes

Chapter 16 Notes
Genes and Variation

Darwin developed his theory of evolution, but he did not know how genetics worked.
Darwins lack of understanding heredity lead to two gaps in Darwins thinking
Mendels work wasnt recognized for a long time, but when it was, biologists connected

his work to Darwins and learned that genes control heritable traits.
Mutations, or changes in genes, produce variation. This can lead to evolution by good
traits getting passed on and those with bad traits dying out. Darwin refers to this as

Survival of the Fittest.

Today, molecular techniques are used to test hypotheses on natural selection.

How Common is Genetic Variation?

Many genes have two forms, or alleles. Animals tend to have several genes controlling a
trait for more choices. Normally, one allele dominates the other. The number of genes

involved in a trait determines the number of phenotypes produced for that trait.
A gene pool consists of all the genes in a population. The relative frequency of an allele is
the number of times that an allele is present in a gene pool. This is often expressed as a

Sources of Genetic Variation

Mutations are changes to a sequence of DNA caused when it is incorrectly copied.

Gene shuffling occurs during the production of gametes.
Sexual reproduction is a major source of genetic variation.
Many traits are controlled by two or more genes and therefore are called polygenic traits.

Peter Taranto

Chapter 16 Notes

Chapter 16 Notes Section 2

Evolution as Genetic Change

A summary of genetic evolution is:

When an organism reproduces and there is a genetic mutation, it can be beneficial,
neutral, or harmful. If the mutation benefits the organism, it has a higher chance of
successfully reproducing. If the mutation harms the organism, it has a higher chance of

dying off. Therefore, the best survive and the good traits are passed down.
Natural selection doesnt act directly on genes, but can change allele frequencies.
When natural selection acts on polygenetic traits, evolution is more complex. It can affect
the distribution of phenotypes in three ways: directional selection; where individuals at
one end of the curve have higher fitness, stabilizing selection; where individuals near the
center have the highest fitness, and disruptive selection; the opposite of stabilizing

Genetic Drift

Genetic Drift occurs in small populations where the reality of the allele count drifts from

This can cause an allele to become common in a small population, just by chance.
This can also happen when a small population migrates.

Evolution vs. Genetic Equilibrium

The Hardy-Weinberg principle states that allele frequency will remain constant in a
population until something causes it to change. Five conditions are required to maintain
genetic equilibrium: There must be random mating, the population must be very large,
there must be no immigration or emigration from the population, there must not be any
mutations, and no natural selection has to occur. In some conditions, there criteria can be
met. If not, evolution occurs.