What is Epigenetics and How Do Environments Affect Gene Expression or Phenotypes: The Case of Slavery in Africa
As Africans, we may need to evolve out of the inherited notions that were a result of enslavement.
Epigenetics is a field of study that looks into changes in gene expression without alteration of the DNA sequence. Primarily, heredity is always appreciated as the passing on of characteristics through DNA. However, epigenetics tells us that traits can be passed on without changes to the DNA or genotype and only through phenotype changes. Phenotypes are observable characteristics of an individual that are a result of the interaction of genotypes with the environment. Genotypes, on the other hand, are the genetic components or DNA of an individual organism. It is their genetic makeup or DNA sequence.
The Impact of Environmental Effects on Gene Expression and Phenotypes
The reason I have taken you to class on some biology is that I want to talk about epigenetics and how environments affect gene expressions or phenotypes. The environment, as we all know has been catalytic when it comes to evolution and how species evolve. Evolution happens only when an individual organism gets exposed to the environment, and environmental factors lead to changes in its genes or characteristics.
Until recently, it was thought that changes to phenotypes could only occur when there is an alteration of the organism’s DNA sequence. The idea got disproved, and we now know that phenotypes are altered by other factors including environmental factors, and not only by the alteration of gene sequence or DNA.