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A mutation is a mutation is a mutation


Weigel,  D       
Department Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen, Max Planck Society;

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Weigel, D. (2022). A mutation is a mutation is a mutation. Talk presented at Darwin Day 2022. Genome editing: Potentials and pitfalls of CRISPR-Cas in an eco-evolutionary perspective. Oslo, Norway. 2022-02-11.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-70A6-B
We are living in an era of rapid global change, and how quickly organisms can adapt to these rapid changes is an important question. Adaptation proceeds through migration and new combination of existing genetic variants, but it may also rely on new mutations. For many years, my lab has been interested in the rate and spectrum of spontaneous mutations. We were the first to measure these in greenhouse and field grown plants, and one of the major surprises was how frequent new mutations are, even in very specific places of the genome. A central tenet of Darwinism is of course that mutations occur randomly, independently of their effects on the organism, and that natural selection is sufficient to explain the observed differences in the rate with which different genes change. We have recently discovered that essential genes mutate less often than other genes, and that apparent sequence conservation results both from lower initial mutation rates and stronger selection. Unfortunately, this non-randomness of spontaneous mutations has already been used by opponents of genome editing to argue for genome edits being unnatural and therefore dangerous.