genetic diversity


January 19, 2022

Genetic diversity (遺傳子多樣性) is a concept that refers to the biodiversity of genes in a single species. The main research subject is the individual differences in genetic traits that account for the total number of all genes of a species. Unlike genetic variation, which is a concept that merely deals with differences between genetic traits, genetic diversity considers changes in genetic traits as well. Genetic diversity increases with each generation, which is affected by association, crossover, and mutation. In general, the word genetic information used in biology refers to genetic diversity in a population. Gene diversity is an important concept underlying many theories and hypotheses of population genetics. According to the theory of neutral evolution, genetic diversity is the result of the accumulation of neutral gene replacements. A number of natural selections also cause genetic diversity. Dichotomous selection is the theory that when subgroups of a species are subjected to different environments, they undergo different natural selection, resulting in different genetic traits. Dichotomous selection occurs when a species moves widely and its habitat grows. Frequency-dependent selection is the hypothesis that the number of populations in a group affects fitness. For example, in a host-parasitic interaction, if the host evolves to suppress a parasite, the greater the population of the parasite, the more likely it is to adapt to host changes.


There are many ways to measure genetic diversity. In modern biology, the loss of genetic diversity in animals is also treated as an important concept. A 2007 study by the National Natural Sciences Foundation found that genetic diversity is interdependent with biodiversity. Richard Lancoe, lead researcher on the study, explains: "If one type of trait disappears from a living system, circulation is disrupted and the effect spreads throughout the species."

Survival and Adaptation

Genetic diversity plays a very important role in the survival and adaptability of species to cope with changes in the natural environment. Minor genetic differences can lead to significant changes in a species, and the resulting anatomical differences affect the survival and adaptation of the species. In a population with a high degree of genetic diversity, more diverse genes can be selected as entrenched traits. Evolution is a process of speciation and consequently progresses in the direction of increasing genetic diversity. Species with low genetic diversity are at great risk for environmental change. Also, reproduction that occurs in a population with homogeneous genetic characteristics increases the probability of genetic defects as in inbreeding.


Humans have been breeding since the beginning of agriculture. As a result of cultivar improvement, monocultures were made in which only one crop was grown on arable land, which resulted in extremely suppressing the genetic diversity of cultivated plants. Monocropping made crops with nearly identical genetic traits spread widely, leaving crops vulnerable to certain diseases. This is because bacteria have been constantly mutating while the genes of crops have been fixed through monoculture. The most tragic event caused by this is the Irish Great Famine. Planting only a single variety of potatoes across Ireland exacerbated the famine as potato leaf blight spread out of control.

Path of Change

There are several pathways by which the genetic diversity of nature is changing. In marine plankton, viruses increase genetic diversity.

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