In recent scientific research, it looks like a bad environment really can cause some kind of epigenetic damage.
It has not escaped my notice that a more fleshed-out version of this could be a very plausible mechanism for an Enhanced Life Form to be able to adapt quickly to varied environments even while having a long generation time.
|1 person marked this as a favorite.|
The video isn't available, but this show's (PBS's Nova) transcript reports that some epigenetic switches may be inheritable, at least by mice.
I seem to remember also hearing from another PBS science show something similar about the epigenetic switches of people who lived through the U.S.A.'s Great Depression passed on changes to their children. I think the genetic/epigenetic changes inherited were enhanced susceptibility to environmental stressors increasing the chance of stress-related illnesses, like heart attacks, strokes, and becoming overweight/obese... but the show was several years ago, and the details in my head are very foggy.
|The Worst Person Ever|
The interesting question might be, how can those changes be reversed? Can we provide those mice babies with environments and care that produce more positive epigenetic changes?
The Science article showed a little bit of evidence that at least some of these changes can be reversed. Also, it's not clear yet how long they last, although it is now known that they can pass down for more than 1 generation (also remember seeing reports of some research to this effect many years ago -- 1980s(?), but the epigenetics part wasn't understood as much back then).
Edit: Just read the NOVA transcript, and it sounds like they definitely were getting input from earlier versions of the research reported in the Science article.
Presumably, part of the evolutionary reason for heritable epigenetics is to expand the ability to adapt to different environments without needing to wait for natural selection to run its course. It would be interesting research to look for heritable epigenetic changes not connected with disease. Now, about the originally mentioned Enhanced Life Forms -- if part of their enhancement was having an expanded array of phenotypes available through epigenetic modification for improving said rapid adaptability, even in a very long-lived organism -- such as certain very long-lived Humanoids . . . .