Then, thru time and natural selection, as what Darwin contends, the living organism branched out assuming different forms and acquiring specialized characteristics. The rapid technological developments in the past century have enabled important discoveries such as the discovery of the DNA.
The DNA has been found to contain the blueprint of the living being. It contains the information of the organism's phenotypic and genotypic expression. With the interest in genetics at a high, there have been efforts to study intensively the gene and investigate whether it can provide clues to how living things evolved.
The study of Tarlinton, Meers and Young (2006) focused on the study of endogenous retroviruses - viruses that have integrated themselves into their host genomes. This process is relatively widespread among mammals. The research has focused on the Koala Retrovirus (KOrV). In an earlier study, all the koalas that were tested were positive for endogenous retroviruses. However, Young and his colleagues found out that some koala populations off the south coast of Australia were not infected and some of them tested positive. All koalas in the northern coast tested positive. This suggests that the virus is transitioning between an exogenous retrovirus to an endogenous form. This discovery implies that the integration process of the KoRV is still ongoing. According to Paul Young, this will serve as an excellent opportunity to study how an organism deals with this viral invasion and can give clues to how retroviruses engaged the organisms of the past. This is because all other endogenous retroviruses integrated themselves with genomes thousands or millions of years ago and were therefore not observable.
The significance of this study is that it opens up the possibility of exploring how endogenous retroviruses affected the evolutionary process of the genome. The responses and adaptation that the genome undergoes can be recorded and can serve as the basis for the analysis of theories regarding the evolution process. A simple analogy goes this way way, if the infected koala population was observed to have black pelt and the uninfected koalas had grey pelt and if the offspring of the recently infected population developed a black pelt then it would most certainly mean that the retrovirus instigated the change. With the effects of the embedment of retroviruses known, then evolution patterns can be established.
The study of Ma, Devos and Bennetzen (2004) provides an interesting investigation of the inherent processes in the genome that had led to its current characteristics. This is in conjunction with scientific studies that the DNA experiences processes during production such as deletion, amplification, repeats and combination resulting to a divergent offspring. The study analyzed the long terminal repeat (LTR) retrotransposons present in rice. These genes are notorious for their divergent effects on the DNA.
The study found out that of the only a quarter (250 in 1000) was intact and that the remaining are solo LTRs or variously