Mutations happen when DNA is damaged in some way, resulting in changes to the genetic code. Mutations can affect how a gene or genes are expressed or how proteins are formed, as well as the characteristics that result from expression of those genes.
Mutations can be caused by environmental factors, such as radiation or chemicals, and be inherited from one generation to the next.
Depending on the type of mutation, the effect to the organism can range from mild to severe. For example, point mutation, which is a type of mutation that changes just one DNA base, can lead to changes in a single amino acid, which can in turn affect the function of the gene.
This type of mutation may cause mild changes in the organism’s traits and may not have much of an effect at all. On the other hand, large-scale mutations, such as chromosomal mutation and gene mutation, can cause more major changes in an organism.
These mutations have the potential to result in drastic changes to the organism and may even be fatal.
The effects of mutations can vary greatly. Mutations can lead to diseases such as cancer, cystic fibrosis, Huntington’s disease and many other conditions. Mutations can also cause changes in a species over generations, leading to new species.
Therefore, mutations are an essential part of evolution and the natural variation that occurs within species.