1st Edition

Genetics and Randomness

By Anatoly Ruvinsky Copyright 2010
    160 Pages 36 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    160 Pages
    by CRC Press

    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.

    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


    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.