Natural and artificial selection

Natural and artificial selection

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  • Created on: 16-04-12 08:42
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Natural and artificial selection
5.9 Natural selection and the evolution of the modern dairy cow and modern bread wheat
Natural selection
Natural selection is the driving force of evolution. Variation, adaptation, selection and speciation all contribute towards
evolution. Natural selection does not involve any man-made effects on nature, but instead refers only to the selection
pressures which naturally exist, including lack of space and availability of food, water, minerals or nutrients.
Natural selection allows certain members of species (and certain species altogether) to gain advantages in the wild to
outcompete its competitors and survive those selection pressures. Any advantageous alleles or characteristics are passed
on to offspring, so that the members of the species without those advantages are less likely to survive.
Artificial selection: the modern dairy cow
Cattle have been domesticated for several thousand years. Humans have selected animals for docility, meat and milk
production, and to survive in the environment. There are now several breeds. Some have thick coats and can live in
the Scottish Highlands, and some can survive in arid areas. The main breeds of dairy cattle, with high milk yields, are
Holstein-Friesian, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Ayrshire, Jersey and Milky Shorthorn
The original wild cattle which were first domesticated are thought to have looked like modern Chillingham White
cattle. By repeatedly selecting cows with high milk yields and allowing them to breed over many generations, humans
have artificially selected improved breeds with higher milk production. Today, breeders still practise artificial
selection. In this way, a few elite cows can produce more offspring than they would naturally
Each cow's milk yield is measured and recorded
The progeny of bulls is tested to find which bulls have produced daughters with the highest milk yields
Only a few good-quality bulls need be kept as the semen from one bull can artificially inseminate many cows
Some elite cows are given hormones to produce many eggs
The eggs are fertilised in vitro (in a test tube) and the embryos are implanted into surrogate mothers
These embryos could also be cloned and divided into many more identical embryos
Artificial selection: modern bread wheat
The flow diagram shows how modern wheat, Triticum wild einkorn goat grass
aestivum, has evolved by selection, beginning with a cross 2n = 14 2n = 14
hybrid of wild einkorn and a wild goat grass. Although this
will have been introduced many times, the hybrid cannot
produce gametes, as its chromosomes do not match up
(one A from the einkorn and one B from the goat grass). HYBRID cannot produce gametes
2n = 14 as chromosomes do not
At some point, the hybrid will undergo polyploidy, that is essentially AB match up
the doubling of the diploid nucleus, so that the nucleus can contain
somewhere along the
more than one diploid set of chromosomes. This produced emmer polyploidy
evolutionary timescale
wheat, a species of AABB which is able to produce gametes, and
reproduce with another wild species of grass (which is unknown), to emmer wheat wild grass species
produce once more an infertile new hybrid of 3n ABC. Again gametes 4n = 28 2n = 14
cannot be produced, as chromosomes do not match up. AABB CC
Once more, a random polyploidy occurs, producing a new variety of wheat,
which now has 6n of the original wild einkorn. This is modern bread wheat
with the genes AABBCC (now known as a hexaploid), Triticum aestivum.
3n = 21
Subsequently, characteristics of the modern wheat are constantly being ABC
improved, due to artificial selection. This helps to make it more resistant to random polyploidy occurs again,
disease and improve crop yields, both benefits to farmers. producing a new variety
fertile bread wheat
6n = 42 Triticum aestivum AABBCC


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