Below is a copy of an email I received from Sparc – A Floating Knowledge Archive for the Survival of People and Planet
I have linked up the references to articles within the text.
New from The Sparc 28th May 2014
This week’s highlights focus on the rapidly expanding field of epigenetics, which is challenging the gene-centric theories of evolution and the idea of natural selection and speciation being a result of gradual, random changes in the genome. A review by Shapiro http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4007016/(Shapiro, 2014) highlights the role of mobile genetic elements that are subject to non-coding RNA-mediated epigenetic regulation which can activate these mobile elements and consequentially mediate gene expression of genes, DNA sequence repair as well as DNA sequence alterations. All is thought to be mediated by life experiences.
Epigenetic regulation of brain function is also becoming a fast developing field, with a new publication showing that epigenetics may play a role in memory consolidation and help to transmit memory across generations. Neuroepigenetics can be altered by stress and has implications for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
With all the evidence of RNA-mediated genetic influence, the generation of crops containing dsRNAs designed to silence genes in the crops present many hazards to both health and environment. As reviewed by http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412013000494 Heinemann et al., 2013, genetically modified crops using RNA interference could result in off-target effects that could even go on to effect gene expression in consumers.