ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2012) — Evolutionary biologists at the University of Toronto have found that individuals with low-quality genes may produce offspring with even more inferior chromosomes, possibly leading to the extinction of certain species over generations.
Their study, published inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, predicts that organisms with such genetic deficiencies could experience an increased number of mutations in their DNA, relative to individuals with high-quality genes. The research was done on fruit flies whose simple system replicates aspects of biology in more complex systems, so the findings could have implications for humans.
"Mutations play a key role in cancer and other health problems affecting humans and other species," said Nathaniel Sharp, PhD candidate in U of T's Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (EEB) and lead author of the study. "Our research suggests that the problem is likely to compound over time, leading to a mutational meltdown that may devastate endangered populations, and increase the risk of health problems in families in poor condition."