What is the benefit of evolution to an organisms genetic material , considering it in a purely chemical sense?

I understand how natural selection works and consider myself to have a relatively high level of understanding of evolution in general, but if you take things down to the level of DNA as a chemical, what is it getting out of it? Does it even benefit at all (like a lower energetic state etc.) or is the chemistry detached from the biology at this point?


I understand that mutations are random, and that there is no inherent direction in evolution, but what I'm asking is better better described thus; if one takes the view that the gene is the unit of selection in evolution, then what is the gene getting out of it? Just continued survival? And if that is the only thing, why would chemicals 'care' if they continue to exist? Hope this clarifies things a bit.

Update 2:

I have read the Selfish Gene, yes. The wikipedia article about it states, "Describing genes with the term "selfish" is not meant to imply that they have actual motives or will – only that their effects can be accurately described as if they do. The contention is that the genes that get passed on are the ones whose consequences serve their own implicit interests, not necessarily those of the organism, much less any larger level". I understand this, and what I'm asking is, "what are their 'implicit interests'?" - what do they have to gain?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
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    That is an interesting question. A general rule is in evolutionary biology that is sort of subtle is that genes are not selected for, phenotypes are. The gene that confers the better phenotype wins.

    So if thats true, it seems that there is a detachment from the chemistry at some point.

    Your point of the lower energy state is interesting. But I do not believe that is a definitive factor since living things by design do reverse thermodynamics, theoretically a higher energy state might be required for a particular strand of dna if it confers some selective advantage.

    Thats a great question!

  • 1 decade ago

    To answer your question: Genetic material doesn't benefit from anything. It simply is.

    DNA is nothing but a collection of some molecules. They don't give a **** about evolution or anything. In fact they don't have emotions, agendas or anything. Evolution is simply based on the fact, that a certain sequence gets transmitted to another individual and thus perpetuates itself. Logically those sequences which will make the "carrier" prone to perpetuate the same sequence, will perpetuate. That is self-evident, isn't it. But that's all there is to say really. Get the point? Think about it.

    Forget about RNA on this question.

  • 1 decade ago

    Too much emphasis on DNA. The critical molrcule is RNA. DNA is just one means for RNA to make more RNA. Because the deoxyribose in the backbone of DNA is more hydrophobic and RNAse is a ubiquitous enzyme, it does add stability to the code in molecule which is the important component. Have you read "The Selfish Gene"?

  • 1 decade ago

    You don't understand evolution. Evolution doesn’t happen to make things more efficient, it usually is a mutation that turns into a benefit to a species

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  • 1 decade ago

    Well chemistry in the body is rooted in biology. So i would think that by changing one's DNA structure (biologically), the chemical reactions needed to maintain that structure would arise and/or change.

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