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All You Need to Know About Genetic Diversity

What is Genetic Diversity?

Genetic diversity is the difference in the genetic makeup of each individual species, breed or population of a single variety of species. The genetic variation is caused due to the environmental conditions as well as mating patterns. The variation un the genes are responsible for the existence of variance in genetic species and a number of genetic disorders.

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The survival of the fittest conditions in the nature has resulted in evolution which in turn has resulted in genetic diversity by inducing certain traits which would otherwise have not existed in am organism. Genetic diversity is the reason why individuals present in the species shows variations.

Causes of Genetic Diversity

Mating is the pairing of two organisms to reproduce new organisms. Mating is generally in between same population, species as well as interspecies in case of certain plants and animals. A migration of small bands of population may result in random mating amongst two different populations, thus inducing genetic diversity. Each organism differ in their genetic makeup as a result of which genetic diversity is seen in all organisms even in similar populations. Consequently, it becomes quite significant to study
the effects of genetic diversity on humans as well as an environment as a whole. According to a research within population differences among individuals, for 93-95% of population accounts for genetic variations [1].

Genetic diversity is the product of a process called recombination which is the exchange of the DNA strands to produce a new nucleotide sequence in the process of reproduction. Genetic distinction may result in new species being produced as a result of mutation in genes called
mutants which are organisms that mostly differ in their phenotypic expression.

Benefits of genetic diversity

The diversity in genetic makeup of humans have been evolving since stone age times. It is the only factor due to which humans as well as other existing living organisms have been surviving in every corner of the world as the climatic conditions of an environment are different everywhere. The diverse features caused due to genetic diversity gives high chances of survival for a particular organism during sudden climatic changes as well as disasters. The disease resistant property are developed with developing diseases over a period of time a result of genetic diversity. Similarly, certain traits such as intelligence, height, skin colour, blood groups, eye colour, personality, etc. differ as a result of genetic diversity in humans.

Biodiversity which is a significant aspect of an environment is possible only due to genetic variations. The evolution of variety of plants and animals over centuries have increased the variety of new species, each playing a vital role in an ecosystem.

According to a research done on arthropods in farmland fields having genetically diverse and natural species of bread wheat, arthropods showed positive impact of genetically diverse crops. Thus, genetic diversity plays a positive role in benefiting farmland biodiversity [2]. Apart from that, the arthropods plays a vital role in food web and acts as ecosystem engineer as it transforms litter fragments, communicate as well as humidify ingested plant debris for further decomposition and foster the growth of microorganisms [3].

The manipulation of genetic makeup of an organism is called genetic engineering that can help one to produce species having desirable traits. Genetic engineering can be done by using recombinant DNA technology which is the process of joining two different DNAs from two different organisms to inculcate a desired characteristic in any one of the organism by using various enzymes. A plant can be genetically modified either to fortify it or to make it more resistant to pests. For e.g. Golden rice is the crop which has been genetically modified to fortify it with vitamin A. An animal can be genetically modified to increase the yield as well as nutrient value of their by products. For e.g. cattle can be genetically modified to produce milk having additional nutrient value. Genetic engineering is a growing field and there are yet a lot of new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) coming on the way.

Drawbacks of genetic diversity

The benefits of genetic diversity are a lot, however with tremendous advantages comes disadvantages. Some genetic diversity can prove to be unfavourable. Genetic diversity is the discovery and description of contribution to a number of diseases in humans which includes heart diseases such as cancer, diabetes as well as heart diseases. Apart from that, even a slight change in genetic makeup of an individual can result in untreatable medical conditions which are a result of genetic disorders.

Genetic disorders can be caused due to heredity or genetic diversity in a particular organism and include diseases such as haemophilia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease and many more. The symptoms for a genetic disorder might be visible by birth. For e.g. consider Down’s syndrome which is a type of disorder caused due to genetic mutations. It affects 1 in 800 to 1 in 1000 live infants born [4]. It's symptoms include delayed development of body, short stature as well as intellectual disability. Gene therapy is the solution to genetic disorders, however it is not preferable to carry it out in infants except in cases of severe illnesses. Apart from genetic disorders, genetic diversity could also cause certain undesirable traits such as low intelligence, metal illness as well as immature physical characteristics.

Genetically modified organisms may crossbreed with other species to produce mutant strains. The effect of these mutant strains are still unknown as genetic engineering is comparatively a new field. The by products of mutant species as well as their effect upon interaction with other components of the environment can be toxic as they are not naturally included in the environment.

Discussion

Genetic diversity has more pros than the cons of it. It is an essential phenomenon in the existence as well as survival of humans. The causes of disadvantages of genetic diversity is quite difficult to cease and hence there are certain solutions control it but not eliminate it as it is a natural process. Contrarily it’s benefits could be increasing on its own due to the process
of evolution which is induced due to changing environmental conditions. Thus, following the survival of the fittest. Genetic diversity could also be improved by man-made activities through using techniques such as genetic engineering.

REFERENCES

1. Rosenberg Noah, Pritchard Jonathan, “Genetic Structure of Human populations",
Science Journal 2002.

2. Chateil Carol, “Crop genetic diversity benefits farmland biodiversity in cultivated
fields”, Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 2013.

3. Culliney Thomas, “Role of Arthropods in Maintaining Soil Fertility”, Agriculture 2013.

4.https://www.genome.gov/19517824/learning-about-down-syndrome/#1 visited on 22 May 2019.

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