Genetic mutationsDiscuss the benefits and harms in mutations. Use several examples.

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ako6777 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A genetic mutation is a change in the DNA of a gene.  Gene mutations can be inherited from a parent or caused by outside influences. Outside influences that can result in genetic mutations are viruses, radiation, and toxins.  Some examples of mutations from outside influences are lung cancer caused by cigarettes or asbestos exposure and skin cancer caused by too much sun exposure. 

An example of a negative genetic mutation is antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Bacteria are being exposed to such large quantities of antibiotics that they are becoming resistant to the antibiotics.  This was due to gene mutation.

Hemophilia is another genetic mutation that seems to have no benefits.  It is a bleeding disorder passed down from a parent, usually the male.

An example of a somewhat positive genetic mutation is Sickle Cell Anemia.  Individuals with Sickle Cell Anemia are immune to maleria.  The genetic damage to the blood cells make them inhospitable to the maleria virus.

The colors of the life around us such as birds were determined by their genetics.  Have you ever noticed how they seem to blend with the environment?  The more they blend the safer they are from predators. 

I believe that the biggest benfit of genetic mutation is evolution.  Every evolutional change experienced was due to gene mutation.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mutations happens when there is a permanent change within the DNA of a species. These changes can be helpful to the organism but it can also be harmful. The benefits of mutations are for survival. Many living things here on Earth are here because of successful mutations, just as many have gone extinct due to harmful mutations. Over time, mutations occur (sometimes random) in order to assist a species to survive.

An example of a helpful mutation would be the thumb of the panda. It is actually an enlarged wrist bone that helps them to grasp and eat bamboo, which is their main source of food.

Harm can come from mutations as well. An example of this would be werewolf syndrome that occurs in humans, although it is very rare. This is when a person develops excessive hair all over their bodies. While this may not pose an actual threat to the person, it can have enormous negative psychological effects on the person.


litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Mutations can be bad because they are not viable, and they kill the organism. For example, an animal cannot really have two heads. However, some mutations are good. I have a calico kitten. Calico is a mutation. It is not deadly, just cute. Some are also evolutionary advantages.

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