Jan 27, 2020 in Research
Genetic Diversity

Genetic diversity refers to the wholesome number of genetic traits in the gene make up of a species. It’s not synonymous with genetic variability which infers more on the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary. Individual species of organisms possess genes that are distinct and unique to it and gives it the feature that defines their behaviours. Genetic diversity also covers the specific population of a species and gives one the confidence of genetic individuality. The field of genetics has for a long time been treated seriously in science, and many researchers have billed it as the fabric of life. The paper explores the concept of genetic diversity.

Genetics in itself studies genes, genetic variance and heredity in living organism. It’s among few core science principles that cut across many fields such as life sciences and information science. Gregor Mendel, a monk, is considered the father of genetics, who studied trait inheritance, depicting particular pattern where characteristics were generationally handed down to offspring. Mendel first gave the definition of genes as the units of inheritance, determining the shared traits. His primary research plant was pea and followed through experiments, to establish fundamental principles that have guided researchers and have expanded and broadened this field, even to this modern age. His deductions from experiments were that a gene comes in pairs and are inherited as distinct units, one from each parent. He then tracked the segregation of the parental genes and the occurrence in offspring as either dominant or recessive. He appreciated the arithmetical patterns of inheritance from generation to another.

 
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This study has been a subject of many studies and research. Further, the Mendelian experiments gave guiding principles in the knowledge of genetics. Some of the principles include; the law of segregation which states that each inherited traits is defined by a distinct gene pair. The parental genes are randomly segregated to each sex cell so that each only has one gene to transmit. Each parental sex cell therefore transfers one genetic allele from each of the named cells during fertilization. The second law is the law of independent assortment that dictates that genes for each trait are independently assorted separately, so that the inheritance of traits is not dependent on each other. The other and the final law is of dominance which directs that organisms with alternate genes will display a form of dominance. The experiments from which these Mendelian theories were born took eight years (1856-1863) and the results published in 1865. He kept the records of over 10,000 pea plants that he planted for the experiments.

These laws were later to be appreciated in 1900, long after his death. Further from these, it’s worth appreciating that genetic processes work in combination with organism’s immediate environment and experience, to influence organism development and behaviour. This is referred in natural sciences as nature versus nurture.

Genetic diversity has intrinsic values that are worth protecting. It means that its importance must not necessarily be gauged by its benefit to human beings. The principle of genetic diversity has been of use, especially in the modern generation of climate change. The miscellany increases chances of survival of species even in the face of adversity. For instance, when a particular disease or weed kills a particular plant or organism, differing gene composition means differing tolerance and or resistance capacity. It means that different organisms will have different inherent tolerance or resistance capacity to counter it. The chance of survival is high; they cannot be wiped out all of them. As is clearly discernible from the above paragraph, the importance of biodiversity is categorized into two major groupings; intrinsic and anthropogenic importance.

The anthropogenic importances are in four major groupings i.e. economic benefits, both direct and indirect, aesthetic benefits. Others are scientific and ethical knowledge, and insurance from the future. The knowledge of biodiversity has been widely modified to produce resistant crops that do well in face of adversity. It’s the genetic storehouse for biotechnology. Some strains have been produced that are quickly maturing and has been of help in famine stricken areas, besides areas of short rains. Further, there are also indirect benefits that emanate from this principle. Ecosystems service such air and water purification oxygen are vital. Moisture generation and climate regulation are also produced by help of biodiversity. Researchers use this principle in crafting plants that sequester a large amount of carbon dioxide to increase the carbon budget, in the campaign against climate change.

Protection of natural and indigenous vegetation in an area gives the place the unquantifiable aesthetic feel and a sense of satisfaction. These environments provide a good landscape for recreation and accentuate cultural beliefs. While others have argued that most aesthetic surroundings are poorly diverse genetically, while some incredibly attractive environments are so diverse, it’s good to look at a bigger picture and cumulative benefits that come with diversity. Apart from these benefits, there are also environmental/ ecosystem goods that biodiversity serves. Some of them are natural fruits, honey, fuel, and medicinal value, such aspirin, tamofixen, quinine, digitalis, from chemicals that the plants produce for defence or attraction. On climate regulation, the various vegetations have differing capacity for nutrient storage, recycling and carbon sequestration. These components are of grave significance in nature.

Chance, history and necessity influence biodiversity in any given area or time. Chance denotes the random processes of birth, attrition and migration. History, on the other hand, is a function of reproduction through time. It is demonstrated that if a particular species was extinct n the near past; the chances are that it’s extinct today. Likewise, if it was abundant in the near past, then it’s abundant today. Finally necessities influence this in that in terms of the law of growth, competition and interaction. Species coexistence will directly depend on the complexity of the environment and the ability of each to compete with another against extinction.

There has been concern in the near past about the high rate of loss of biodiversity. The causes are referred to as drivers. Some of these drivers include habitat change which is most associated with human factors such settlement, population pressure, landscape fragmentation and land use change. Moreover, climate change, overexploitation, pollution and invasive species are major contributors. These direct drivers have indicators such as excessive fertilizer use, water consumption, irrigation and harvests. Besides these direct drivers of the loss, there are indirect drivers such the interaction between income growth and technology advancement, international trade that has promoted poaching, invasive species transfer. Deforestation also contributes to severe droughts, and climate variability that has been witnessed in the recent past.

There is a strong conviction that conservation of biodiversity is paramount. The importance appreciated above play crucial role in the sustenance of nature’s flora and fauna, including human beings and therefore conservation is the path to go. Biodiversity or just genetic diversity faces imminent threat and that why the CBD, convention on biodiversity was convened by the United Nations. This was after its significance was appreciated. A vital field of human significance that this genetic principle has been used is fighting shortage of food to feed the world’s almost 7 billon population. Crop breeding and protection has been leading n this. Conservation effort are now relevant than ever.

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