What Is Plant Mutation?
Mutations are changes that occur within a species or population due to natural processes such as genetic drift, random mating and other environmental factors. These changes may cause the organism to become different from its ancestors. For example, if two individuals have the same DNA sequence but one is a human and the other is a chimpanzee then they will both carry out all their actions exactly like humans but with slightly different body structure and brain function. However, if these two individuals were to mate, each offspring would be genetically identical to the parents but physically very different.
Mutations can result in new traits or even completely new organisms. Mutants are organisms that do not fall into any existing category. They could include mutants in medicine, biotechnology or engineering where they might be able to create something entirely new; or they could be mutant animals which may differ greatly from their wild relatives. Mutations can also be caused by man-made agents such as radiation, chemicals or viruses.
The term “mutation” was first used in 1872 by German biologist Ernst Mayr when he described the phenomenon of spontaneous generation (or mutation) among bacteria. Since then it has been widely accepted that mutations are a normal part of evolution.
Mutations were first linked to the process of evolution by the British naturalist, physician and anatomist, Thomas Henry Huxley. He was able to prove that all living organisms are related to each other through common descent. Common ancestry is also known as Evolution. It is the change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over an extended period of time.
This change is generally a shift in the frequency of an allele (variation of a gene) within a population.
Mutation can lead to different types of changes in DNA. Some of these changes are so small that they do not effect the viability of an organism. Others will result in a complete non-functioning organism (in which case, this type of mutation is likely to be naturally eliminated by natural selection). However, other mutations may give the organism a reproductive advantage and cause it to have increased fitness.
These types of changes will then be more likely to be passed on to the organism’s offspring.
Mutation is one of three main processes that contribute to evolution.
Several other factors can cause change to a population.
Genetic drift is the chance loss of genetic information (more specifically, alleles) in any one generation. This may happen due to things such as accidents, diseases or even genetic disorders during meiosis.
Genetic drift is classed as a type of random variation. However, it can have an important role in the evolutionary process if it causes a change in allele frequency. Most famous example of this was the loss of color vision in the South Pacific island population of Melanesians. The islanders became unable to see differences between red and green after generations lived without exposure to green vegetation.
The genetic information (or alleles) causing this ability were lost by chance and their frequency reduced.
Sources & references used in this article:
Plant cultivars derived from mutation induction or the use of induced mutants in cross breeding by A Micke, M Maluszynski, B Donini – 1985 – inis.iaea.org
The axr2-1 mutation of Arabidopsis thaliana is a gain-of-function mutation that disrupts an early step in auxin response. by C Timpte, AK Wilson, M Estelle – Genetics, 1994 – Genetics Soc America
An Arabidopsis mutant tolerant to lethal ultraviolet-B levels shows constitutively elevated accumulation of flavonoids and other phenolics by K Bieza, R Lois – Plant physiology, 2001 – Am Soc Plant Biol
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Mutations in the gene for the red/far-red light receptor phytochrome B alter cell elongation and physiological responses throughout Arabidopsis development. by JW Reed, P Nagpal, DS Poole, M Furuya… – The Plant Cell, 1993 – Am Soc Plant Biol
Ascorbate-deficient mutants of Arabidopsis grow in high light despite chronic photooxidative stress by P Müller-Moulé, T Golan, KK Niyogi – Plant Physiology, 2004 – Am Soc Plant Biol
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