G is for Genetics

The study of the humane genome (especially when you add the evolutionary perspective that often comes with an anthropological study of the genome) is an incredibly broad field. With continuing research, this field is only growing.

But, speaking of an evolutionary perspective, today I’m going to talk about genetic drift.

Genetic drift occurs when the gene distribution in one generation differs significantly from the previous generation. Usually, the change is subtle and has limited impact on the evolution of a species–a larger percentage of a certain genotype may randomly occur in a generation or be influenced by outside sources (such as favoring one sex over another).

I’m more interested in the more dramatic form of genetic drift: that change which occurs as the result of catastrophe. A huge event like a natural disaster, war, etc. that removes a large segment of the population may result in that population becoming more genetically homogenous (more similar).

This interests me particularly because, in my WIP’s world, just such an event happened in the last 1000 years. A series of wars and a disaster has left a small portion of a much larger population isolated. Subsequent efforts to profile and further isolate some individuals with certain genetic traits has further homogenized the society.

The way I play with genetic drift here is by increasing the genetic disorders that affect a person’s magic. In the story, multiple individuals struggle with alterations or even disabling effects due to a change in how their magic operates–a change effected by the increase in recessive genes thanks to the genetic drift.

It’s been very fun to introduce diversity in characters’ abilities through this method and play around with how magic can go wrong.

More on that magic system tomorrow for the letter H and for my 100th post on the Course of Events!

Author: JA Goodsell

I write YA fantasy, blog about it, and then take my dog out for therapy. My current manuscript is INNATE, a story of two sisters caught up in a war between the gods. Find me on Twitter at @JAGoodsell or Instagram at books_and_dogs

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