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
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?
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
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.