Westinghouse vs Edison. Microsoft vs Apple. Nature vs Nurture. Cats vs Dogs.
The world is full of rivalries; even the genetics world. While most of the population has heard of Darwin, fewer may have heard of his counterpart, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck. Yet he seems to be THE name associated with an on-going debate in the field, which is…
Can the environment of one’s ancestors effect the genetics of their offspring?
If you Google epigenetics, it only takes 0.51 seconds to bring up ~ 8,100,000 results on the topic. That can be a touch overwhelming. So let’s start with the basics: Epigenetics deals with how factors outside the genetic code itself affect how we develop.
We are more than simply the string of letters our genes predestine us to be. There are biological components that act on the DNA, rather than within the DNA, to affect growth and development. This is fact.
Yet the aspect of epigenetics that seems to be the hot topic of the last few years is, can environmental components change a person’s DNA in a way that is then passed onto the next generation?
The short answer is. . . maybe. When egg and sperm come together, the DNA is reset. So any effect from Mom, Dad, Grandma Mary, Grandpa Henry, Great Grandma Sophia . . . you get the picture, is wiped clean. At least most of it is. Which is where the “maybe” comes in. There are some very limited areas that are not and these are the areas that scientists think may just be candidates for transgenerational inheritance.
It’s controversial and grossly unproven. Though possible. Which is the perfect recipe to make it a topic propagated on the Internet. Only future generations, who may or may not be influenced by what you are doing right now, will know.