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Dna by Diet

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Essay title: Dna by Diet

Week 2-B Assignment:

DNA by diet.

SC 100 I002 FALL 06

Instructor: Tricia S Keiter

February 10, 2007

I found some interesting research done concerning heredity and disease from two scientists at Duke University. They were examining the agouti mice species whom possess a specific gene different from other mice named the agouti gene, making their fur bright yellow and their body composition very obese. This gene also made them susceptible to contracting illnesses such as cancer and diabetes and almost guaranteeing a short life span for this breed of rodent. The scientist involved in this experiment were, Randy Jirtle a professor of radiation oncology and his postdoctoral student Robert Waterland. This group of scientist formulated a method of changing a life forms hereditary pattern without actually changing the individual DNA permanently. They took a pair of agouti mice and allowed them to mate and as soon the mother became fertile they changed her diet by adding foods high in methyl donors and small chemical clusters in an effort to disable the gene from being used in the reproductive process and allowing the offspring to not be affected by the agouti gene. The methyl donors and small chemical clusters are common products and can be found in onions, garlic, beets, and prenatal vitamin supplements given to pregnant women. These products targeted the agouti gene and disabled its debilitating effects while keeping the chromosome intact and without any reported side effects. This was an amazing accomplishment for those two scientists and for the history of heredity and disease control since they were able to affect a species ability to pass on stronger offspring by just changing their diet. I found this article to be a little skeptical at first due to my lack of knowledge in the area, and due to the fact it appears to easy to due in laments terms. If I want to tweak my offspring’s natural selection process, all I need to do is find the chromosome responsible for this feature and find something scientifically to turn it off. But with this new revelation of epigenetics the times of natural selection can be forgotten a little bit and the greater good could possibly come from all species.

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