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Question:
Explain the process of mutation and the importance of mutation to the evolutionary process?



Replies:
The process of accumulating mutations is a key feature of evolution. In brief, mutations create diversity, and selection pressures determine which mutants have the best chance of survival and reproduction. Mutation occurs in all forms of life, but micro-organisms, such as bacteria, in general mutate faster than higher organisms, so that we can directly follow the process. The display on Evolution in the Virtual Museum of Bacteria (www.bacteriamuseum.org) describes the process of evolution and mutation in bacteria and has incorporated some examples and illustrations from other web sites. you can go to the display on Evolution directly by
www.bacteriamuseum.org/niches/evolution/mutation.shtml

Trudy Wassenaar


A mutation is any change in the DNA code or in the process of transcription and/or translation into protein. People assume that mutations are a bad thing. But they can make an organism better adapted to their environment. Mutations are sometimes survival neutral; in other words, at the time of the mutation, they don't hurt or harm the organism. It doesn't matter to the survival of the organism. But if the environment changes, this could make the organism suddenly more or less adapted. The organisms with the favorable mutations survive and the ones with the unfavorable mutations don't survive as well. It is important to a species' survival (as a species, not as individuals) that there is diversity so that at least some members can survive in the event that the environment changes.

Van Hoeck



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