Mendel launched the science of modern genetics. Later discovery of DNA solidified an understanding of the mechanism of heredity. More recent discoveries have significantly changed our understanding of the way DNA is manipulated within an organism to affect certain trait modifications by regulating how genes are turned on and off. This “epigenetic” modification allows an organism, without changing its DNA sequence, to express physiological or morphological adaptations in response to its environment. In humans, epigenetic modifications are believed to largely reset with each new generation, whereas modifications for some complex traits are stably inherited for many generations in plants. This phenomenon adds a new dimension with far reaching consequences into plant breeding efforts and the understanding of natural systems in the environment.
Science: Vol. 343 no. 6175 pp. 1145-1148