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Biotech Idle Science

The Average Human Has 60 New Genetic Mutations 246

Posted by samzenpus
from the magnetic-colon dept.
mcgrew pointed out a story about a new study that found the average person is born with 60 genetic mutations, very few of which involve weather manipulation or an amazing healing factor. This number was less than expected, leading the researchers to believe human evolution happens more slowly than previously thought. From the article: "Sixty mutations may sound like a lot, but according to the international team of geneticists behind the new research, it is actually fewer than expected. 'We had previously estimated that parents would contribute an average of 100 to 200 mistakes to their child,' Philip Awadalla, a geneticist at the University of Montreal who co-led the project, said in a press release. 'Our genetic study, the first of its kind, shows that actually much fewer mistakes, or mutations, are made.'
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The Average Human Has 60 New Genetic Mutations

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  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday June 17, 2011 @11:52AM (#36475452)

    ...before a little girl passes through a wall at the federal reserve!

    • They just print paper there. Go to Ft Knox for the gold.

    • hijacking first thread to link the source [nature.com] (subscription/university login req'd), since the posted article doesn't.

    • Implement genetic ECC, IMO!
    • .before a little girl passes through a wall at the federal reserve!

      But only if it's Kit from the first X-Men movie. Nothing against Ellen Page, but Sumela Kay is cuter.
      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        Meh - to each his own. There's just something about Ellen Page that I like. I'd rather that version :).

    • I've always wondered about "mutations" in the X-Men comic books. There are people whose mutations lead to fantastic powers and there are normal people. I wonder about people in the middle. People who have mutations which lead to mundane powers or even powers which make everyday life difficult. For example, a mutation that makes ones hair grow at 50 times the usual rate. You would need to constantly shave every 6 hours lest you grow a beard not to mention the long tail of hair you would constantly drag

      • The big speed bump I always run into is "where the heck is the power for these mutations coming from?" It takes energy to lift up metal with a magnetic field and fling it around the room, where's it come from?

  • Hogwash! (Score:2, Funny)

    by necro81 (917438)
    Mutations, smutations! Everyone knows that evolution is bunk and that humans were created in their current, perfect form just 6000 years ago.
    • by bberens (965711)
      By "perfect form" I assume you mean "so evil by design that you deserve to burn in hell for eternity." Well, unless you complete a very specific set of steps to complete the salvation process.
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Only three things are required. Love God, love people, and accept Christ as your savior. Now, there are a lot more steps in some other religions...

    • by FauxPasIII (75900)

      Quick! You're needed two stories up on the climate change topic!

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday June 17, 2011 @12:02PM (#36475628) Homepage Journal

    My intuition tells me they're missing something. I've always felt that mutation rates among stressed organisms would be a lot higher than among healthy sucessful organisms. Again, intuitively, not scientifically, from a "selfish gene" perspective, an organism that generated more mutations in its offspring when it wasn't doing well would be more likely to have ANY of its genes passed on to future generations, while an organism doing well would mutate less.

    From a simpler perspective: more viruses, more bacteria, more cell damage all make mutations of some kind more likely as well. Mutations are copy-errors, and a cell under stress would be less able to error-correct its genes.

    None of this has a hypothesis I'd be willing to put out, but I think studying first world humans misses some possible independent variables.

    • If you do a similar comparison to computer coding, your argument is similar to saying that a mature, stable program needs less patches (mutations) and bug fixing to work, while a less mature products will require more patches. However, even for stable programs, that do their thing well, there is always space for subtle improvements (a refined interface, a new feature, support for new architectures). I think the same applies for living organism. Your definition of healthiness may not necessarily include the
    • From a "selfish gene" perspective, there should be an optimum regarding the rate of mutations passed on to offspring. Zero obviously has your germline severly limited in terms of adaptability, too high a number would be detrimental for obvious reasons, and further to that, as you say dilute our "selfish gene" out of existence. As usual, evolution tends to settle into local optima - "good enough" is all that it takes.

      As for the stress factor - sounds plausible on the first glance, however, stress response l
    • by RDW (41497)

      'None of this has a hypothesis I'd be willing to put out, but I think studying first world humans misses some possible independent variables.'

      They actually looked at one caucasian and one West African (Yoruba) family. A lot more will need to be analysed to see if the number of new mutations in the children are typical. The authors also recognise that "the distribution of mutation rates in the population could contain a long tail of relatively rare individuals with considerably higher mutation rates (perhaps

  • 'We had previously estimated that parents would contribute an average of 100 to 200 mistakes to their child,'

    My parents contributed 1000s of mistakes to me...

  • by Nadaka (224565) on Friday June 17, 2011 @12:15PM (#36475874)

    "Sixty mutations may sound like a lot, but according to the international team of geneticists behind the new research, it is actually fewer than expected. 'We had previously estimated that parents would contribute an average of 100 to 200 mistakes to their child"

    Don't worry, most parents are going out of their way to make up the difference and then surpass it.

  • Most of these mutations are in "junk", or non-coding DNA. Almost all novel mutations to functional DNA are detrimental.

    At Skepticon 3, PZ Myers gave an excellent presentation [youtube.com] about genetic mutation and adaptation. It's about an hour long, but definitely worth a watch.

  • I wonder if the rate of mutations is higher or lower than in the past, and what it's trending.

  • We had previously estimated that parents would contribute an average of 100 to 200 mistakes to their child, ...

    Non-genetically speaking, I'm sure the number will be much higher over the kids lifetime, and I'm sure those mistakes will be far more problematic. Hopefully, mistake #1 wasn't forgetting the birth control...

  • TFA is, unfortunately, very brief and doesn't talk about this distinction but not all conceptions result in births. Embryos are often reabsorbed without the mother even being aware. I would expect the number of mutations at birth to be lower than the number at conception because those with more and more serious mutations are never born.

  • Compare this of urban to poor rural. You will find that poor rural will have a LOT more mutations and BIGGER. Why? More mosquitoes. The fact is that most mutations are caused by virus and most virus probably transmit via arthopod-bourne than any other reason.

    Sadly, these guys probably looked at fairly well to do ppl who are not just not exposed, but not around a whole lot of ppl or animals. Once they are closer to life, they will have more, faster, and bigger mutations (as in whole genes being transfered)
  • Nager's Syndrome. :(

  • Germ cells are the sperm and eggs which are pretty hardwired in sperm stem cells or ovaries by birth. The non-germ somatic cells which make up the vast majority of your body continue to mutate through your pre-birth development and post-birth life. Cancer is thought to be the accumulation of 5 to 20 such mutations or expression changes in somatic stem cells. This cancer hypothesis should be better known in next decade or two as researchers are furiously sequencing cancer cells to see how they have changed.

He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.

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