[Taxacom] biased gene conversion

Kenneth Kinman kennethkinman at webtv.net
Fri Feb 13 21:59:38 CST 2009

Hi John,
     I agree that biased gene conversion would allow the spread of a
mutant, but if that mutation is truly harmful, then natural selection
would still weed it eventually (very quickly on a geological
time-scale).  If the mutant is simultaneously both harmful (as
sickle-cell gene is when possessed in both copies) or helpful
(sickle-cell gene possesed as a single copy), that is a whole different
      As for Dover, I wasn't even aware of his book.  However, after a
quick check I see that he has been criticized for failing to mention
Darwin's "correlated variability" (i.e. pleiotropy).  In any case, Dover
has a clear advantage over Darwin in access to modern knowledge.  But
not having read his book myself, I can't comment on how helpful his
fanciful "correspondence" with Darwin might be.  As for the subject of
natural selection, perhaps he makes a good argument, or perhaps it is
just semantics (i.e., how wide would Darwin's concept of natural
selection now be if he also had access to knowledge of molecular
evolution?).  I'll have to get a copy of Dover's book to read and
critique it for myself, but I just hope he didn't prematurely attach too
much importance to biased gene conversion (the importance of which has
not had time to be fully explored and debated).    
        -------Ken Kinman

John Grehan wrote: 
Hard to swallow does not mean that it is not true. The part I don't
understand is why many of the genetic changes have to represent harmful
It would seem to in that biased gene conversion would allow the spread
of a mutant without requiring differential reproductive success.... 
Dover wrote a whole book of imaginary correspondence between himself and
Darwin on that very subject. 

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