Aug 012011
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Why does one bee become queen and the other a female worker – although they are genetically identical? A new discipline in science has first answers to this questions: Epigenetics.

There is no escape from our genes. They determine who becomes tall and who stays small, who is healthy and who falls sick – and they contain the answers to heal cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes etc. This was the leading opinion in science in the year 2000 when the human genome project was completed. Ever since we know the blueprint of homo sapiens – which was a great disillusionment: It is not nearly as complex as expected. The human genome is only double the size of a pin worm.

But man is far more complex than a pin worm. Soon it became obvious that genes are not everything. There must be a second level above them and this is how the scientific discipline of epigenetics was born. Its findings have challenged the perspective of genetics, because it is not  correct that only the DNA determines complexion and development. Why does one bee become queen and another a worker although they share exactly the same genome? Nutrition and therefore the environment is to blame. interviewed Leonie Anna Mueck, member of the JUnQ editorial board, about this Open Question of the Month.

Listen to the podcast here (in German): Epigenetik – Was bestimmen die Gene und was die Umwelt? on

Photo: Pollinator
Lizenz: CC-BY-SA 3.0 Unported

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