Genetic Correction

A long time ago, when I was living under the influence of vastly different institutions than I do now, I planned on growing up to be a molecular biologist. I remember my foray into the world of science fondly (and with a certain amount of healthy nostalgia), so I read this article in Wired with interest. Apparently, the law of genetic inheritence posited by Mendel centuries ago (and a cornerstone of our understanding of genetics and biology ever since)
may be flawed. According to a new experiment at Purdue. . .

. . . researchers found that a watercress plant sometimes corrects the genetic code it inherited from its flawed parents and grows normally like its grandparents and other ancestors.

In other words, just because we inherited “bad” genes from our parents, all is not lost!

The idea that organisms can “self-correct” is fascinating to me. Particularly the notion (explained later in the article) that our RNA may actually contain the information about the “correct” genetic code when our DNA becomes fouled.

I read this in parallel with another conversation I’ve been participating in about wikis and the Wikipedia, in particular. I couldn’t help but start to imagine our genetic code as a biological wiki, subject to corruption of data. And perhaps RNA serves the purpose of our “history/recent changes” allowing us to revert to an old, “tried and true” version of ourselves when that corruption occurs.

I’m stretching, I know. But it was fun to speculate on for a moment. . .