Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mendel's head is spinning

Plants Fix Genes With Copies From Ancestors (washingtonpost.com)Plants can restore from backup systems.
Then, in a move akin to choosing their parents, plants can apparently retrieve selected bits of code from that archive and use them to overwrite the genes they have inherited directly. The process could offer survival advantages to plants suddenly burdened with new mutations or facing environmental threats for which the older genes were better adapted.
Eons ago I wondered if biological systems would somewhere implement algorithmic compression programs resembling lzw compression. This is weirder.

I'm not sure it's totally unanticipated, I think I saw a star trek episode along those lines once (Picard is devolving towards some kind of lemur ...). Nonetheless, it's rather astounding. Gregor Mendel would really be amazed.

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