Epigenetics: Not in Our Genes
Sunday Times, 17 June 2012
Book review of ” Identically Different” by Tim Spector
Excerpt: “This book concludes with a list of four genetic dogmas that have been overthrown: genes are not our essence; our genetic inheritance can be changed; environmental events can be “remembered” by cells; and what happens in your life can affect later generations. Or, to put it bluntly, almost everything you’ve been told about genetics is wrong.”
My Comments (added to the site, but reproduced below):
In an issue dedicated to THE NEUROSCIENCE AND EVOLUTIONARY ORIGINS OF SEXUAL LEARNING, I published: Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors.
The 10-page article details how the epigenetic influences of nutrient chemicals and pheromones cause adaptive evolution. This occurs via the required ecological, social, and neurogenic niche construction, which is what allows for our hormone-driven brain development and behavior (e.g., our socio-cognitive niche construction). The required pathway also is detailed and includes the required reciprocity at all levels: gene, cell, tissue, organ, organ system.
What’s painfully clear is the fact that endocrine disruptors and other toxins are responsible for disorders of brain development and behavior that are typically absent with proper nutrition and socialization in other species. Why then, does it take evidence from twin studies to make others realize that we are what we eat, and that our pheromones tell others who and what we are?
That’s the common theme across all of molecular biology, and the effects of a toxic environment are evidenced via my use of the honeybee model organism. What the queen bee eats determines her pheromone production and everything else about the interactions of the colony, including the neuroanatomy of the worker bees’ brains.
Does what one twin eats and the exposure to pheromones cause the neuroanatomy of the human brain to change? How could the epigenetic influences of nutrient chemicals and pheromones not be responsible for the differences in twins, and in everyone else? There’s no other model for those differences, and the molecular biology doesn’t change across species from microbes to man.