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Après Darwin : épigénétique et évolution – L’architecture du génome : ses briques et sa plasticité

Abstract : Interest in epigenetics has taken on considerable importance with the general public and the media in recent years. However, cover pages with striking headlines often display conclusions that are not necessarily based on empirically verified research data. For example, on the front page of the New Scientist in 2009, the headline reads: "Darwin was wrong!1" And the text goes on to say: "Darwin was wrong! continued: "DNA is not everything, the environment modulates gene expression and certain traits can be modified and transmitted without altering the genome sequence. This is what the field of epigenetics touches upon and which leads us to reflect on the Darwinian conception of evolution by adding a touch of Lamarckism. If Jean-Baptiste Lamarck had seen evolution as a theoretical necessity, Charles Darwin puts it forward as the product of chance and contingency. Much of the debate amounts to opposing "innate" and "acquired" or "nature versus nurture"; that is, to contrast the contributions of epigenetics and more traditional approaches to genetics concerning phenotypic variations, and even to contrast the theories of evolution between neo-Lamarckism and Darwinism. In reality, such an opposition has no real foundation. biological, because epigenetic mechanisms operate in the context of genetics, as we will see below. Thus, there is considerable interaction between genetic variation and epigenome. Finally, the notion of transgenerational heritability remains a subject of discussion, and sometimes even controversy. Moreover, the effects possible over a few generations of these processes are not necessarily transposable to the time scale needed for evolution. It is probably important to remain cautious and to avoid epigenetics falling victim to fashionable effects such as those that have prevailed in the past, like the beginnings of genetic epidemiology, which saw the slippage of the "everything is genetic" and a simplistic vision according to which each individual would be the sum of his or her genes. It is therefore important for researchers in this scientific community to be careful to manage public expectations and avoid the pitfalls of sometimes hasty communication.
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Contributor : Geneviève Almouzni Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, December 10, 2020 - 5:39:58 PM
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Geneviève Almouzni. Après Darwin : épigénétique et évolution – L’architecture du génome : ses briques et sa plasticité. Darwin au Collège de France XIXè-XXIè siècle, PSL/République des Savoirs, Collège de France, 2020, Passage des Disciplines, 9782722605329. ⟨10.4000/books.cdf.7303⟩. ⟨hal-03052794⟩



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