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Years after humans have discovered an ancient aliens ruins on a planet they realize that the animals were capable of amazing feats. Said ruins have activated and killed the vast majority of humankind. The survivors were only the humans on the planet at the time.

They begin to change and after a few centuries or thousands of years, they evolve to something else, more powerful, something that is better than everything humans were capable before.

The methods used by the machine were combining natural selection and genetic manipulation, by mixing synthetic or borrowed genes in their DNA and waiting a couple of centuries to repeat the process, accelerating the evolutionary process of the human survivors drastically.

Question:

Is the proposed method of genetic manipulation viable or realistic?

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closed as unclear what you're asking by sphennings, MichaelK, L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica, Ash, Mołot Oct 3 '17 at 15:56

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I expect this question will be flagged as too ambiguous, and I suggest you clarify it and focus. As it reads now, it sounds as if you are asking about 'intelligent design' of evolution. However, you have not clarified exactly what is doing the designing. Nature, a god, the organism itself, a protagonist, a human scientist or geneticist? The answer will be dependent on which you choose. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 3 '17 at 2:27
  • $\begingroup$ Questions asking "What would be the effect of x on society?" are often closed as too broad. Asking "Will it work?" and "What effect will it have?" are very different questions. Please limit yourself to one question per post. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Oct 3 '17 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ I guess you are suggesting something like genetic engineering and epigenetics on steroids. But what exactly are you trying to ask? $\endgroup$ – Olga Oct 3 '17 at 5:51
  • $\begingroup$ What i was trying to ask was if the method that i explained was realistic enough and the impact of said method in relation to what the evolution of technology will be like in a society that everyone have that method of genetic engineering, but i removed the second question and edited the first to better understanding $\endgroup$ – user43339 Oct 3 '17 at 10:02
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This isn't Evolution, This is a mutation engine

Firstly, evolution is the genetic divergence of one species becoming another.

Lets go through your assertions:

  • could you 're-sequence' the genetic structure of a single organism to give them new traits? Theoretically this is possible and theoretically this could result in any biologically plausible trait being given. Since you are changing molecules you could also speed up the biological development of the facsimiles needed to exercise said trait.

  • could you cause on the fly mutation? You could argue that your mutation machine injects nano machines capable of resequencing the DNA and biology as environmental changes arise. But there is no biologically sound way of achieving this. (The biological mutation/evolution process is purely trial and error where error is death so this would need to be artificially governed)

  • What can you achieve with gene manipulation? Theoretically, anything. Any trait you currently see in the natural world could theoretically be transferred to an organism (though the backend science of this is incredibly complex). If you want it so you can regrow an arm but not the loss of a heart, that's perfectly plausible and totally within creative control. The explanation would be the body died before it could evolve a solution to survive the change.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, really helped me i will change evolution to mutation in my history. $\endgroup$ – user43339 Oct 3 '17 at 17:11
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I'll have to say - that question was a tough read, but let's see if I got the gist of what you are asking. Basically, you want to know if it makes sense for there to be a new process of evolution which combines the "best" traits of both natural and artificial selection - something that allows organisms to adapt to their environment more quickly - and whether this can be caused by genetic manipulation. I am going to go ahead and leave the later parts of the question about limb regeneration etc out for now: you'll see why in a bit.

First, a quick recap on how evolution works. It is, at its core, a process of a species responding to external stimuli and pressures. If the stimuli is natural, you get natural selection, if it is man-made, you have artificial selection. The names of either process do not, in any way, indicate superiority. In fact, it is not strictly correct to say that an evolved organism is "superior" to its less evolved counterpart - it is only better equipped to survive in its current environment.

To bring this back to your question, any evolution that takes place in the absence of intelligent intervention has to be natural selection by definition. We are not going to discuss artificial selection any further.

About the speed of evolution - how "useful" this is to the species really depends on how quickly their environment is changing. As such, evolving rapidly does not make sense if the environment is not changing. You can have all the manipulated genes you want, but if the ecosystem stays static for ten millenia, no evolution is going to happen. If changes are gradual, evolution cannot be rapid.

In a nutshell, the question you posed is not valid for a number of reasons. If you must have such a mechanism for your plot/ world setting, I suggest that you keep away from "evolution" and just have science monsters or something.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, i will avoid evolution and have to search for another way to explain way the humans and aliens have "superpowers". $\endgroup$ – user43339 Oct 3 '17 at 11:32
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I will not repeat what @Xenocacia correctly said (+1!), but I feel some important bits are left out:

  • First of all "Evolution" (natural, artificial or whateveral) is solidly founded on the principle you prevent "less adapt" (whatever it means) to reproduce (or, at the very least, make it more difficult); the "usual/easy" way is just to kill the poor sod; which is hardly acceptable in any kind of society.
  • Second Evolution is strictly linked to the concept of "generations"; this means species that reproduce faster and in large quantities will "evolve faster" (it's not by chance bacteria and insects are so adaptable).
  • Third tenet of Evolution is the "random mutation", which means an arbitrary change in genetic code that's not controlled by anyone but blind chance (i.e.: no "intelligent architect"!).
  • The large majority (>99.9999%) of random mutations are negative, often fatally negative; the others are usually "indifferent"; really useful mutations are several orders of magnitude rarer.
  • The above means you can "speed-up" Evolution also with a higher mutation rate, but then you'll have to cope with a much higher "defective" rate.
  • Devising a way to artificially inducing specific "good" mutation is difficult, but thinkable.
  • Devising a system to modify the genetic system in a way to produce "only" (or even just preferentially) "good" mutations is going against everything we understand about how Evolution/Genetics actually works.
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  • $\begingroup$ I will avoid evolution, the ideia was the same that the humans did to wolves to create dogs but the humans was the tech of aliens and the dogs all the beings that were modified with said tech without further intervention than the first interaction and better "dogs" than than what we made, i am no scientist or a student to become one but write a book about certain capacities that surpass the limits of what nature make us, i choose evolution route but now i know that my understanding of said theme is very limited. $\endgroup$ – user43339 Oct 3 '17 at 11:42
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The first part of what you describe is done routinely and has been for decades. It is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Site-directed_mutagenesis.

The first hit on my pubmed search:

Metabolic engineering a yeast to produce astaxanthin.

described their procedure as follows

2.4. Site-directed mutagenesis

To improve the key enzyme activity, the amino acid point mutation of Hpchyb enzyme was made by QuikChange™ Site-Directed Mutagenesis Kit (Stratagene, USA). Briefly, the mutagenic primers, purified by HPLC grade (Table 3), containing the desired mutation site in the middle of the primers and annealed to the same sequence on opposite strands of the plasmid. After the thermocycler steps with annealing temperature 64°C, the site-directed mutation of plasmids was generated.

So: you want more rapid mutation. You can have it. You can do it old school with mutagens and select for the survivors or you can mutate individual genes of interest (as described above) with specific tools. It is not stated, but it is understood that a fair number of individuals so mutated will not be viable or up to standards, and so you then select for individuals with the phenotype of genotype that interests you.

You could do this as "evolution" if you wanted with 1940s tech. Suppose you have a sublethal antibiotic solution. You want to evolve resistant bacteria. You have no clue how exactly the antibiotic works or what mechanism bacteria use to resist them. You can ramp up the mutation rate. Absent selective pressure from other organisms / food shortage (they are in your lab and well taken care of) you could more rapidly produce resistance organisms.

The problem you cannot get around is generation time. Yeast and bacteria reproduce quickly. If you want a mouse that can regenerate limbs or is super smart, you will need to wait for your mouse to grow up and see if that is the case. Probably you will then need to breed you mouse with other mice that have other aspects of the trait you want. This sort of endeavor is done routinely by plant scientists looking for new traits / disease resistance and it is cool as cool can be. Some of these traits they want in plants are complex, approaching even the superpowers (e.g. superspeed, regeneration) you hope for in your posting.

I take away from your post that you are smart enough to invent a wheel but young / unschooled enough not to know there are wheels out there. Full points on inventing a wheel. I encourage you to study biology if this sort of thing interests you. Breeding up Wolveriney supersoldiers to battle each other is fine. Also fine feeding hungry people with plants improved along the lines of what you propose. Which makes the world a better place?

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  • $\begingroup$ I tried in high school the course to science (biology, geology and philosofie were the only i liked, the rest (math, physics, chemistry, portuguese, etc) did not work with me) but life is life and i changed to programming, my aim is computer engineering.in college. $\endgroup$ – user43339 Oct 3 '17 at 17:19