Gene flow, which allows far travel of genetic material into new populations, and alloploidy, the combination of genetically distinct but similar chromosome sets, primarily in plants were both interesting to me as I’d forgotten about both or perhaps didn’t know. Alloploidy reminds me of a natural method of the kinds of genetic modifications that we do today to increase crop robustness, yield, remove allergens, or other desirable qualities.
Gene flow seems fascinating because of the long distances of travel and “act[ing] as a cohesive force, uniting individual plant species into real evolutionary units.” (Ellstrand, 2014)
I don’t think my beliefs on evolution have changed. In my church growing up, they saw no contradiction between evolution and creation, using evolution as an example of “God’s guiding hand” – and the “day is like a 1000 years” to explain the metaphorical 7 days, and pointing out where there were similarities between animal development and appearance in the text. It was enough for me to believe they could co-exist.
I think some of the language in evolution teaching could use some modifying as I think some outdated information is still taught in schools about genetics and evolution because it’s just easier to keep teaching things that way as simplifications that are considered teachable and gradable, well tied to educational outcomes.
I think they could tie in how evolutionary algorithms in computational intelligence have been very successful, pointing out their many uses. Even though the algorithms lack the genotype–phenotype distinction, their practical value in engineering optimization problems for example (Słowik & Kwaśnicka, 2020) has proven itself repeatedly as invaluable.
Such incorporation of the usefulness of evolutionary algorithms may not convince those who believe there were other ways species arrived on the scene, but at least it would help acknowledge the value in the algorithms inspired by evolutionary theory as a temporary reprieve from repeats of the Scopes trial in classes around the country.
Ellstrand, N. C. (2014). Is gene flow the most important evolutionary force in plants? American Journal of Botany, 101(5), 737–753. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1400024
Słowik, A., & Kwaśnicka, H. (2020). Evolutionary algorithms and their applications to engineering problems. Neural Computing and Applications, 32(16), 12363–12379. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00521-020-04832-8
[responsivevoice_button voice="US English Male"]