Hot Flies and Mosaic Parents

In the past couple weeks, I’ve been checking back in with a couple of my favorite lines of scientific research in my New York Times column.

–Last week, I wrote about how life will (or won’t) adapt to climate change. A new experiment suggests that some species may have more potential to evolve resistance to the new conditions than previously thought. But we don’t know if that will be enough.

This is just one way in which we humans are now driving evolution in new directions. Here’s a video of a lecture I gave on the subject a few months ago at Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum:

–This week I take a look at the ever-fascinating subject of mosaics. We tend to think of ourselves as each having a single, unique genome. But we contain genetic multitudes.

I wrote a feature for the New York Times about mosaics last September, pointing out how hard it can be to determine just how common and how important mosaicism is. In my latest column, I write about a new study that attempts to do just that, looking for mosaic parents who have unknowingly passed down harmful mutations to their children. It turns out to be more common than scientists had expected. Check it out.

One thought on “Hot Flies and Mosaic Parents

  1. If this phenomenon occurs upward of 4% of the time, how does that affect forensic uses of DNA, such as identifications and paternity tests? My guess would be, for the former, not at all, and for the latter, to an extent that depends on what proportion of sperm-producing cells happen to correspond to the hidden mosaic.

    [Paul: It should affect paternity tests very much, because the similarity between the different sperm should still be great enough to make it clear that the explanation is mosaicism, not another father.]

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