Genetics and Randomness  book cover
1st Edition

Genetics and Randomness

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ISBN 9781420078855
Published July 28, 2009 by CRC Press
160 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Analyzes Randomness in Major Genetic Processes and Events

No matter how far science advances, the proportion of what is knowable to what is random will remain unchanged, and attempts to ignore this critical threshold are futile at best. With the revolutionary explosion in genetic information discovery, it is crucially important to recognize the underlying limitations of scientific prediction in genetics.

Genetics and Randomness furthers the understanding of the role randomness plays in critical biological processes. The book also navigates the complex nature of genetic uncertainty from different points of view and at various levels of biological organization.

Avoids Unnecessary Technical Details and Specific Terminology

Exploring areas ranging from basic quantum mechanics and molecular genetics to modern evolutionary genetics and the philosophy of mathematics, this well-organized text discusses:

  • Spontaneity of mutations and their relation to subatomic randomness
  • Deep links between subatomic fluctuations and long-term macroscopic changes in living organisms
  • The multitude of random events that occur during development
  • Segregation, genetic drift, and natural selection

Randomness and uncertainty are not occasional and regretful deviations from the "true" principles upon which life is built. Genetics and Randomness illustrates the ubiquitous nature of randomness as an integral feature of all essential processes, effectively embracing a probabilistic understanding of the phenomena of life.

Table of Contents

Limits and uncertainty in nature and logic

Limits of nature

Quantum uncertainty principle

Statistical mechanics and Brownian motion

Randomness in mathematics

Limits of reasoning: randomness and complexity as the general feature of nature and mind

Quantum fluctuations, mutations, and "fixation" of uncertainty

Nature of genes and mutations: the early attempts

Mutations and repair

Types of mutations

Keto-enol transitions and quantum uncertainty

Induced mutations and DNA repair

How do random molecular events like mutations become facts of life?

Somatic and germ cell mutations

Quantum uncertainty and unpredictability of life

Other quantum phenomena and life

Recombination and randomness

What is recombination?


Molecular nature of recombination

Distribution of cross-overs along chromosomes

Meiotic recombination generates randomness

Origin of meiosis and sex

Recombination and chromosome rearrangements

Genome transformations and speciation

Intron-exon structure of eukaryotic genes: randomness again

Arranged randomness and immune response

Uncertainty of development

Phenotype and genotype

Stochasticity of development: clones and twins

Mosaics and chimeras

Alternative splicing and variety of proteins

Stochastic nature of gene activity

Epigenetic basis of developmental variability

Random gene inactivation events

Random X chromosome inactivation

Gene networks and canalization

Types of randomness

Organized randomness

Gregor Mendel’s vision

Random segregation, uncertainty, and combinatorial variability

Genes and chromosomes that violate the law

Why is the first Mendelian law so common?

Randomness rules

Random genetic drift and "deterministic" selection

The discovery of genetic drift

Neutral mutations in evolution

Is natural selection deterministic?

Adaptations and stochastic processes in evolution

Life: Making uncertainty certain

Order from chaos

What is life?

The old comparison: physics and biology

Natural selection: biology and beyond

Randomness: nuisance or essence?

The reason and the consequence

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Anatoly Ruvinsky, Ph.D., is a Professor of Genetics at the University of New England in Australia. He has published numerous papers in leading journals and has edited several books, including a series of six books on mammalian genetics. His major research interests lie in evolutionary and developmental genetics as well as bioinformatics.