Evolution’s Speed – How Common Are Inversion Mutations?

Sotp it! Sotp it right now!

This is part of a series: How Fast is Evolution?

I might have figured out how to push evolution to its limit, but it’ll only be practical if the theory of evolution needs good mutations to be reasonably common.  The first step is to find the different kinds of mutations that are out there, and how common they are.  Today I’ll cover inversion mutations.

Inversion mutations flip a chunk of code around.  This has a huge effect on a chromosome’s shape, as seen in the illustration.A nice illustration of what inversion mutations do to a chromosome

It looks like nobody has measured any inversion mutation rates yet.  The tools that scientists use to sequence genes simply aren’t up to the task…yet (see the bottom of box 1 in the article I’m linking to).  The best I can do is list some interesting info about inversion mutations.

For starters, somewhere around half of all cases of hemophilia are caused by inversions.  Hemophilia is where your blood won’t clot properly, so that even a tiny scratch could prove deadly.

Also, inversions tend to stop recombination in the part of the genome that’s flipped.  It seems that if you get an inversion mutation, and you’re lucky enough that it flips an entire gene instead of just part of it, the gene will still work, but it’ll be in some way incompatible with the normal version.  This keeps your cells from shuffling them normally.  The genetics jargon for this is “inversion supression“, and it seems that inversions are the most common cause.

Finally, the vast majority of people who have inversion mutations don’t have any symptoms until they try to have kids.  Inversions sometimes cause infertility.


This is part of a series: How Fast is Evolution?

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