11 August 2010

How bad genes can escape the Grim Reaper (and why this is good)

Last month, PZ Myers wrote an interesting piece at the Panda's Thumb in which he discussed some problems with very simple models of evolutionary genetics. One of his main themes was the idea that many genetic changes are neutral with regard to fitness; instead of immediately triggering selection (positive or negative), they're just "tossed into the stewpot." I recently joined the crew at PT, so for my first post I picked up on PZ's point and discussed a very recent article that describes one way in which organisms can carry seemingly deleterious genes around with them.

The concept of interest is called "developmental buffering," and it's just another fascinating biological phenomenon that creationists and ID propagandists are wise to ignore.