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Darwinian DetectivesRevealing the Natural History of Genes and Genomes$
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Norman A. Johnson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306750

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306750.001.0001

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The Baby with the Baboon Heart

The Baby with the Baboon Heart

Why Evolution Still Matters

(p.3) 1 The Baby with the Baboon Heart
Darwinian Detectives

Norman A. Johnson

Oxford University Press

The H5N1 avian flu virus has spread to fowl across several continents and has killed hundreds of people. Fortunately, this flu is not easily transmitted to humans yet; if it were, a deadly pandemic would likely ensue. How did this virus arise? What are the factors that govern its evolution and its potential to be transmitted to humans? These are questions that can and have been addressed by the application of evolutionary principles. Evolutionary biology is also being applied to combat the evolution of resistance of bacteria to antibiotics, and insect pests to pesticides. This chapter addresses these and other applications of evolution, including plant and animal breeding, the human genome project, studies of aging and other maladaptations, and forensic uses. The facts and principles of evolutionary genetics are not just arcane, academic matters; they are highly relevant to “real world” problems.

Keywords:   antibiotics, avian flu, breeding, evolution of resistance, H5N1, human genome

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