Can Your Lifestyle Be Passed on to Future Generations?

Back when Charles Darwin presented his theory of evolution by natural selection, French biologist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck suggested something different - that the changes you are exposed to during your lifetime can be passed on to future generations. By this theory, giraffes have long necks because, over generations, they have stretched them, reaching for leaves.

This theory became laughable when genes were discovered as the means of heredity. Lifestyle choices cannot be passed down in your DNA, or so we thought….But recently this idea has returned and a new field of biology has emerged called epigenetics – which looks at how the genes we inherit from our parents are controlled and modified by their life experience and the choices they made.

Marnie Chesterton meets the survivors of the Dutch Famine of World War Two, whose grandchildren show health effects from that event despite being born three generations after the starvation of 1944.

As the new field of epigenetics develops, does this mean Lamarck was right all along? Can your lifestyle be passed on to future generations and does this mean we need to rethink our traditional view of evolution?

Do you have a question we can turn into a programme? Email us at crowdscience@bbc.co.uk

Presented and Produced by Marnie Chesterton

(Image: Grandmother, Mother and Daughter in a kitchen. Credit: Getty Images)

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27 minutes

Last on

Mon 19 Jun 2017 13:32 GMT
BBC World Service Australasia

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