Describe mechanisms (random mutation, natural selection, reductive evolution) that contribute to the appearance of diverse traits in a population and explain how growth habitats can affect the prevalence of individual traits. Apply this knowledge to the evolution of antibiotic resistance in pathogen populations.

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Asked Apr 3, 2019
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Describe mechanisms (random mutation, natural selection, reductive evolution) that contribute to the appearance of diverse traits in a population and explain how growth habitats can affect the prevalence of individual traits. Apply this knowledge to the evolution of antibiotic resistance in pathogen populations.

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Expert Answer

Step 1

During evolution, the inherited traits are changed as they pass on from generation-to-generation. Mutation is the ultimate driving force of evolution that occurs at the gene level, where they change the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence. Thus, as the genes realign themselves along the chromosomes, they offer a huge platform for recombination during meiosis, which brings about genetic as well as phenotypic changes in a population. These mutations, when occur naturally or by chance, are often called ‘random mutations’. Depending on the type and intensity of the mutation, they may be harmful, neutral or beneficial. However, 70% of the mutations are harmful, which also get ruled out during natural selection.

Step 2

Natural selection is the key mechanism of evolution where the desired or deleterious traits acquired during random mutation are incorporated or weeded out respectively from a population’s gene pool. Thus, the traits that offer better chances of survival and reproduction to the organisms in a population are selected during evolution. In another words, the best fitted organisms are chosen from a mixed population when the natural forces operate in a given habitat. Thus, as the genome size decreases or shrinks in size, it leads to reductive evolutions. This type of evolution is commonly seen in intracellular symbionts or microorganisms (bacteria and Archaea), where their genome size is small and less complex in comparison to that of the eukaryotes.

Step 3

In addition to mutation and natural selection, an individual’s habitat also affects the prevalence of heritable traits. A habitat offers survivable conditions to an individual, where it is exposed to all kinds of environmental constraints. Thus, the habita...

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