Nature Genetics | Free Association

Genetics of treats kindly treated

Dear Myles:

I truly enjoyed reading the following statements in your editorial (43:page 85) 

First…“for the parallel study of mechanisms of evolution, both the mechanisms of speciation and those operating in adaptation at the population level in the course of domestication history and agricultural improvement.” 

Second. “…we remain at heart a journal of genetic variation.” 

I admire your commitment to the above principles. 

Darwin was inspired by domestication of plants and animals by farmers and animal fanciers, and he asked how variation was molded by nature. 

The great triumvirate – Fisher, Haldane and Wright were not only inspired by Darwin, but also intimately associated with plant and animal breeding. That is why their work is so practical, meaningful, endearing and enduring. Perhaps it may not be an exaggeration if I mention that to a large extent, we are yet to transcend the limits (should we call it the Fisher-Haldane-Wright limit?) set by these visionaries.

 The later ones such as Kimura, Ohta, Nei, Mather, McClintock, Beadle to name a few, were all trained in plant breeding. Similarly, Lush, Robertson, Cockerham, Henderson et al. were animal breeders. Examples such as the origin of cultivated wheat, cotton and sunflower are exhilarating. Indeed, these discoveries absolutely dwarf the present craze in structural/copy number variation – Please don’t mention this to Evan Eichler or Jim Lupski! 

Single genes could transform and even destroy agriculture and livestock. I am sure humans are no different from these general phenomena. These views must be addressed in our own times. 

It is a pleasure to witness this wonderful progress and to see a journal committed to advance these fundamental principles of biology. 

Sincerely yours

- Raju Govindaraju


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