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Alfred001

“People have made a lot of progress in genetics by studying model organisms”

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I was reading this Quanta article

https://www.quantamagazine.org/how-nature-defies-math-in-keeping-ecosystems-stable-20180926/

And the following quote appears in it: “People have made a lot of progress in genetics by studying model organisms,”

Can someone give me an example of progress being made in genetics by studying model organisms or explain in principle how progress is made by studying model organisms?

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Henrietta Lacks's immortalised cancer cell line was an important breakthrough..

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henrietta_Lacks

 

Evolution of bacteria gaining resistance to vaccines recorded by camera on timelapse video:

At the end of the video there are showed new branches of bacteria highlighted with various colors. Researcher can take samples of two or more such branches and compare differences in DNA between them.

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I am not entirely sure how "model organisms" is (meant to be) used here, but research in well understood model animals (flies, worms, mice etc) enables faster and more complex understanding because of how much we have already researched them.

Model organisms have many (specific) uses, and understanding their limitations is obviously important. But let's look at the Seahare (Aplysia Californica); it has possibly one of the simplest learned/inducable reflexes that we can research, and the fundamental cellular machinery is in many ways quite close to that of humans (and in many ways far off, so its important to  choose the right sort of model for the right type of question). By producing/breeding specific mutations into the Seahare and then observing the differences induced, we can see effects of genetic/genomic changes on "behaviour" (even if its a very simple reflex). This type of research gives us a lot of insight into what specific regions of the genome are responsible for. Additionally, a lot of the genome is much less understood and doesn't code for proteins, instead having regulatory functions. Highly controlled models will of course make it easier to find subtle differences that are the result of mutations in the non-protein parts of the DNA.

Hope this is interesting information, even if it may not be exactly what you wanted to know.

-Dagl

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That’s exactly the point Dagl1. 
 

If you want quick knowledge start with a model organism because we already know a great amount about them.

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7 hours ago, druS said:

That’s exactly the point Dagl1. 
 

If you want quick knowledge start with a model organism because we already know a great amount about them.

Or conversely, model organisms such as Escherichia coli are the ones where we identified basic molecular functions (such as gene regulation), metabolism. Due to a vast array of tools available for genetic manipulation, availability of genome sequences etc. There still new functions being characterized, though some research focus has switched to systemic analyses.

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Even more basic: consider how fortuitous it was that Gregor Mendel chose the sweet pea and paid attention to six traits that each had only a limited number of alleles and followed simple "Mendellian Inheritance" (isn't that amazing? It was called Mendellian and that was his name too!)...Had he chosen traits with more alleles or polygenic inheritance patterns, he may have never noticed the pattern and we would all have been spared the  tedious experience of counting all those damn fruit flies in lab, cutting so deeply into our drinking time in college.

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