Explain the process of mutation and
the importance of mutation to the evolutionary process?
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
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.
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Update: June 2012