Introduction to Mutations and Evolution

What you’ll learn to do: Recognize that mutations are the basis of microevolution; and that adaptations enhance the survival and reproduction of individuals in a population

We’ve already learned about DNA and mutations, now we’ll learn about how these mutations can drive evolution. This type of evolution falls under the category of microevolution.

Microevolution is the change in allele frequencies that occurs over time within a population. This change is due to five different processes: mutation, selection (natural and artificial), gene flow or gene migration and genetic drift. This change happens over a relatively short (in evolutionary terms) amount of time compared to the changes termed ‘macroevolution’ which is where greater differences in the population occur.

Population genetics is the branch of biology that provides the mathematical structure for the study of the process of microevolution. Ecological genetics concerns itself with observing microevolution in the wild. Typically, observable instances of evolution are examples of microevolution; for example, bacterial strains that have antibiotic resistance.

Microevolution over time leads to speciation or the appearance of novel structure, sometimes classified as macroevolution. Macro and microevolution describe fundamentally identical processes on different scales.


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