Characteristics passed between generations are not decided solely by DNA, but can be brought about by other material in cells, new research shows.
Scientists studied proteins found in cells, known as histones, which are not part of the genetic code, but act as spools around which DNA is wound. Histones are known to control whether or not genes are switched on.
Researchers found that naturally occurring changes to these proteins, which affect how they control genes, can be sustained from one generation to the next and so influence which traits are passed on.
The finding demonstrates for the first time that DNA is not solely responsible for how characteristics are inherited. It paves the way for research into how and when this method of inheritance occurs in nature, and if it is linked to particular traits or health conditions.
It may also inform research into whether changes to the histone proteins that are caused by environmental conditions -- such as stress or diet -- can influence the function of genes passed on to offspring.To read more, click here.