Influence of DNA & Molecular Biology on Evolutionary Classification (Essay Sample)
How does the recently developed DNA technology help scientists establish a more accurate
classification scheme? Information on DNA can often indicate relatedness between organisms and
even provide data on how long they have been evolving separately. Discuss the influence of DNA
and molecular biology on the future of evolutionary classification.
Role of Molecular Biology in Evolutionary Classification
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Role of Molecular Biology in Evolutionary Classification
Unlike conventional taxonomy classification that relied on morphological features, the modern classification system uses DNA to actuate organisms’ heritage and ancestry. Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) is the critical inheritance carrying molecule located in each cell’s nucleus. It is made up of four bases, all of which differ for every living organism and a sugar backbone. Adopting a double helix structure, it is a long molecule containing every organism’s instructions to live, reproduce and grow. Although Miescher discovered DNA in 1869, Watson, Crick, Wilkins, and Franklin discovered its structure and potential to carry and transmit biological information in 1953 (Gillings & Westoby, 2014). In the subsequent years, more research and studies culminated in the successful sequencing of DNA bases, defining an organism’s heritage. Therefore, DNA helps classify organisms more definitively than the previous morphological classification system by actuating inherited traits and trace heritage and ancestry.
Before discovering and applying Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) in organisms’ classification, scientists used morphological features to describe and classify organisms. Although this was an ingenious classification system at discovery, it led to difficulties, especially for similar-looking organisms (Gillings & Westoby, 2014). Using their physical features proved difficult to define their origins. However, DNA discovery as a classification system in the early 2000s and the subsequent human genome mapping changed the taxonomical game altogether. It helped scientists affirm ancestry and heritage through the relatability of traits and characteristics. Presently, scientists sequence an organism’s genome by extracting mitochondria DNA (Gillings & Westoby, 2014). It is heated in the lab through a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify the gene (Gillings & Westoby, 2014). Once they obtain the sequence, they compare it to the sequence of another base organism. They also used the universally designated standard sequence to classify an organism into its rightful species and phyla.
According to the evolutionary theory, organisms’ inherited characters, for instance, DNA, change over time as they progress further apart. Consequently, organisms with a closer heritage or ancestry show similarities in their DNA. For instance, the human DNA has a 97% similarity rate with that of the chimpanzees and 87% with that of a mouse (Monaghan & Sartori, 2009). Therefore, by sequencing DNA, scientists can easily tell from where an organism comes and to what other organisms it is related. This information assists scientists in classifying organisms into their phylum with ease easily. Some organisms show similarities in physical appearances, and others change their appearances depending on environmental conditions, such as coral; DNA is more useful than using organisms’ morphology or ecological roles (Monaghan & Sartori, 2009). To determine their ancestry, scientists use DNA to trace their origins and rightfully classify them.
The potential for DNA and molecular biology to affect the future of evolutionary classification is limitless. Advancements in DNA and genome sequencing and editing are already at an advanced stage. This technology will prove critical in artificial evolutionary manipulation (Herrera, Garcia-Bertrand & Salzano, 2016). Mapping genomes and storing them digitally for synthesis in the future at various locations is already at an advanced stage. Combined with cloning, it helps scientists recreate organisms and edit existing organisms’ DNA; therefore, it will affect the evolutionary scheme’s future (Herrera, Garcia-Bertrand & Salzano, 2016). Using available knowledge, and with only an estimated 7% of global species identified, DNA and molecular biology will play a crucial role in identify
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