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Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution

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Darwin's Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection

The Modern Synthetic theory of Evolution is described in terms of genetic changes happening in the populations that lead to the development of new species. It also clarifies about the genetic population, gene pool, and the gene regularity. The ideas under this synthetic theory of evolution contain the recombination or variation, mutation heredity, natural selection and Isolation.

Factors of Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution

  1. Recombination or Variation

Recombination is when the newly produced genotypes are derived from the existing genes. The gene combinations having similar individuals with two types of alleles, mixing of the chromosomes in the course of sexual reproduction of two parents create new individuals, an exchange of the chromosomal pairs of alleles that happens during meiosis, known as crossing over, yield the new form of gene combinations. Chromosomal mutations like inversion, deletion, duplication, translocation, polyploidy all are resulting in the recombination of genes.

Natural selection is typically the most powerful mechanism causing evolution to happen. However, it only chooses among the already existing variations in a population. It does not yield new genetic variations but it is also responsible for making genetic combinations, which were not found in earlier generations.

Sperm and ova are basically different from somatic cells in the number of chromosomes that they have. Both male and female sex cells usually get only half the number of parent chromosomes (23 out of 46 in humans).

  1. Mutation

The changes that take place in the gene is because of the phenotypic effect differential as the mutation. This creates several numbers of changes that might be harmful. Various mutant forms of genes are falling to the normal genes in a homozygous condition. These changes are reason variations in offspring.

Mutations can have a variety of effects. They can often be harmful. Others have little effect. Although very hard, the change in DNA arrangement may even turn out to be useful to the organism.

A mutation that happens in body cells that are not passed through to subsequent generations is called a somatic mutation. Mutations take place in a gamete or in a cell and that gives rise to other gametes being special due to the impact the next generation may not harm the adult at all. Such changes are named germ-line mutations because they occur in a cell used in reproduction, giving the alteration a chance to become more in over time. If the mutation has a harmful effect on the phenotype of the offspring, the mutation is mentioned as a genetic disorder. One after the other, if the mutation has a positive effect on the fitness of the offspring, it is known as adaptation. Thus, all mutations that disturb the fitness of future generations are agents of evolution.

Mutations are vital for evolution. Every genetic aspect in every organism was, primarily, the result of a mutation. The new genetic variant spreads with the help of reproduction, and differential reproduction is a defining factor of evolution. It is easy to understand how a mutation that lets an organism to feed, nurture or reproduce more efficiently could cause the mutant allele to become more abundant as time passes by. Soon the population may be quite ecologically and physiologically different from the original population that is short of adaptation. Even harmful mutations can cause evolutionary change, particularly in small populations, by eliminating individuals that might be carrying adaptive alleles at other genes. 

  1. Heredity

In humans, eye color is an example of a hereditary characteristic: an individual can inherit the "brown-eye trait" from mother and father. Inherited characters are regulated by genes and the complete group of genes within an organism's genome is known as its genotype.

The complete group of observable characters of the structure and behavior of an organism is known by its phenotype. These traits arise from the interaction of its genotype with the surroundings. As a result, many features of an organism's phenotype are not hereditary. For instance, suntanned skin comes from the interaction between an individual's phenotype and sunlight thus, suntans are not passed on to their offspring. However, some individuals tan more easily than others, due to differences in their genotype. A striking example is individuals with the inherited characteristic of albinism, who do not tan at all and are highly sensitive to sunburn.

Heritable characters are well-known to be passed from one generation to the next with the help of DNA, a molecule that encodes genetic information. DNA is a long polymer that includes four types of bases, which are exchangeable. The sequence of bases along a specific DNA molecule states that the genetic information: this is comparable to a series of letters spelling out a passage of text. Before a cell divides via mitosis, the DNA is copied, so that each of the resulting two cells will get the DNA sequence. A part of a DNA molecule that specifies a single functional unit is known as gene different genes have a different series of bases. Within cells, the long strands of DNA form condensed structures so-called chromosomes. Organisms get genetic material from their mother and father in the form of homologous chromosomes, having a unique combination of DNA sequences that code for genes. The exact location of a DNA sequence within a chromosome is called a locus. The different forms of this sequence are called alleles. DNA sequences can change through mutations, making new alleles. If a mutation takes place within a gene, the new allele can affect the characteristic that the gene regulates, altering the phenotype of the organism


  1. Natural Selection

Natural selection makes a change in the frequency of the genes from one generation to the other selecting the differential type of the reproduction. The natural selection method forms an adaptive relation between the environment and the population over several combinations of genes. In 1859, Charles Darwin set out his philosophy of evolution by natural selection as a description of adaptation and speciation. He well-defined natural selection as the "principle by which even a slight variation of trait, if useful, is conserved". The idea was simple but powerful: persons best adapted to their surroundings are more likely to live and reproduce. As long as there is some difference between them and that difference is heritable, there will be a certain selection of individuals with the most helpful variations. If the differences are genetic, then a degree of difference reproductive achievement will lead to a progressive evolution of specific populations of a species, and populations that grow to be sufficiently different finally become different species

Based on these simple remarks, Darwin concluded the following: 

  • In a population, some individuals will have genetic traits that help them live and reproduce (given the conditions of the environment, such as the predators and food sources present). The individuals with helpful characters will leave more offspring in the next generation than their peers since the characters make them more effective at surviving and reproducing.

  • Because the helpful characters are transmissible, and because organisms with these traits leave more offspring, the characters will tend to become more common (present in a larger fraction of the population) in the coming generation.

Darwin's model of evolution by natural selection permitted him to clarify the patterns he had seen during his journeys. For example, if the Galápagos class shared a common ancestor, it made sense that they should resemble one another. If groups of birds had been isolated on other islands for several generations, still, every group would have been visible to a different environment in which different transmissible characters can be preferred, like different shape and size of mouths for using different food sources. These characteristics could have led to the development of distinct species on each island.


  1. Isolation

It is one of the vital aspects responsible for the synthetic theory of evolution. The isolation helps in avoiding the interbreeding of organisms which is a generative form of isolation.

Types of Isolation

  1. Geographical Isolation

When the populations are separated by a geographical barrier, such as sea, river, mountain, deserts and for marine animal’s land, they are largely prohibited from interbreeding. Such populations are called allopatric and are forced to evolve freely and accumulate genetic differences. Geographical isolation can be different for different species. For instance, a small stream might be an effective hurdle for land insects and small mammals but for birds even mountains and oceans may not be barriers.

  1. Reproductive Isolation

The mechanisms of reproductive isolation are a group of evolutionary mechanisms , behaviors and physiological processes critical for speciation. They stop members of different species from producing offspring, or guarantee that any offspring are sterile. These hurdles maintain the integrity of a species by reducing gene flow between related species

  1. Temporal or Habitat Isolation

Any of the factors that stop potentially fertile beings from meeting will reproductively isolate the associates of distinct species. The kinds of hurdles that can cause this isolation contain: different habitats, physical hurdles, and a difference in the time of sexual maturity or flowering

  1. Behavioral Isolation

The different mating rituals of animal species generate tremendously powerful reproductive blocks, termed behavior isolation, that isolate apparently similar to the species in the majority of the groups of the animal kingdom. In dioecious species, males and females require to search for a partner, be in vicinity to each other, carry out the mating rituals and release their gametes into the environment in order to breed

  1. Mechanical Isolation

Mating pairs cannot be able to pair successfully if their genitals are not compatible. Insects' rigid coverings act in a manner analogous to a lock and key, as they will only let mating between individuals with matching structures, that is, males and females of the identical species.

All the above points explain the modern synthetic theory of evolution.

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FAQs on Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution

1. What is the modern synthetic theory of evolution?

The Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution theory is a modified form of Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection. It is known as Neo-Darwinism. Neo-Darwinism theory is the synthesis of Darwin’s theory and modern genetics. This Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution states that the variations which happen at the gene level are only inherited (mutation) and accountable for evolution and not all the variation as held by Darwin. The modern concept of evolution is the synthesis of Darwin’s and Hugo de Vries’ Theories, hence it is called Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution.

2. Which factors do affect the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution?

The Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution (also called Modern Synthesis) consolidates the idea of Darwinian development with Mendelian hereditary qualities. The following are some of the factors that affect the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution. These factors are:

  • Natural selection

  • Gene Mutation

  • Chromosome structure and number change

  • Gene Recombination

  • Natural selection

  • Reproductive isolation

  • Migration

  • Hybridization

  • Genetic drift

  • Gene flow

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