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Journal Article

A genetic uncertainty problem

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Tautz, D. (2000). A genetic uncertainty problem. Trends in Genetics, 16(11), 475-477. doi:10.1016/S0168-9525(00)02118-1.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-0E84-B
The existence of genes that, when knocked out, result in no obvious phenotype has puzzled biologists for many years. The phenomenon is often ascribed to redundancy in regulatory networks, caused by duplicated genes. However, a recent systematic analysis of data from the yeast genome projects does not support a link between gene duplications and redundancies. An alternative explanation suggests that genes might also evolve by very weak selection, which would mean that their true function cannot he studied in normal laboratory experiments. This problem is comparable to Heisenberg's uncertainty relationship in physics. It is possible to formulate an analogous relationship for biology, which, at its extreme, predicts that the understanding of the full function of a gene might require experiments on an evolutionary scale, involving the entire effective population size of a given species.