In class yesterday, we watched the documentary Ghost in Your Genes, which discussed the newfound importance of the epigenome and the influences of environmental and non-DNA related factors in gene expression. You can watch the movie here:
Many identical twins were documented to show the differences in people with even the exact same genetic coding. The most interesting pair of twins had one normally functioning girl and one autistic girl, two totally contrasting phenotypes resulting from the same genotype.
As I was watching the movie and the study on the influences of maternal care on mice was explained, I just thought the experiment was essentially a nature versus nurture study. I still think it was, but to see the real chemical and epigenetic changes in the brain was fascinating. Every time I have learned about nature versus nurture, I have never studied the epigenetic effects on the brain due to nurture. All the studies seemed to be observation studies that correlated two observations together. The causes and effects of nurture, although very visible and logical, never was as concrete with specific scientific evidence as I saw in the documentary.
I also learned about the importance of methylation in DNA for gene expression and silencing. Hearing about the fat, yellow agouti mice giving birth to thin, brown mice was insane! That just makes me wonder about all the possible effects that food has on our bodies. As someone who loves studying nutrition and health, I was blown away by the results of the experiment. I guess I need lots of B12 and folic acid! Unless that will over-methylate my DNA… Hmm. I wonder how the body knows which genes to silence when given the right vitamins to do so.
Overall, Ghost in Your Genes was a great documentary! Check it out if you are interested!