IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


21st March, 2024 Science and Technology


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  • Ranthambore National Park's tiger population has faced significant challenges due to historical threats like hunting, poaching, and habitat destruction.
  • Despite conservation efforts, genetic studies reveal concerns about inbreeding and genetic isolation in the Ranthambore tiger population.


  • The majority of Ranthambore tigers trace their lineage back to a single tigress, T16 (Machali), highlighting the lack of genetic diversity.

Implications of Inbreeding

  • Inbreeding increases the risk of genetic disorders, physical deformities, and reduced fitness in the population.
  • Studies suggest the potential for inbreeding depression, although conclusive evidence is still lacking.
  • Genetic purging may mitigate some harmful effects, but the high level of inbreeding poses a significant threat to the population's viability.

Genetic Rescue Strategies

  • Genetic rescue involves facilitating gene flow from external populations to increase genetic diversity and counteract inbreeding effects.
  • Translocation of tigers from genetically diverse populations into Ranthambore is proposed to introduce new genes and enhance population health.
  • Considerations include minimizing the risk of outbreeding depression and selecting suitable source populations for translocation.


  • Fragmentation of habitats and anthropogenic pressures hinder natural dispersal and gene flow.
  • Establishing corridors and increasing connectivity between tiger reserves are essential for facilitating natural migration.
  • The urgency of genetic rescue calls for proactive measures, considering pragmatic limitations and long-term prospects.

Conservation Actions

  • Collaboration between scientists, managers, and policymakers is crucial for implementing genetic rescue strategies.
  • Urgent action is needed to investigate potential inbreeding depression and formulate effective conservation plans.
  • Engagement with stakeholders and government agencies is essential for prioritizing genetic rescue initiatives and overcoming bureaucratic hurdles.

About Gene Flow

  • Gene flow, also known as genetic migration, refers to the transfer of genetic material between populations of organisms.
  • It plays a crucial role in shaping the genetic diversity and evolutionary dynamics of species, influencing their adaptation and speciation processes.

Mechanisms of Gene Flow:

  • Natural Dispersal: Organisms disperse naturally through migration, dispersal, or movement, carrying their genetic material to new areas.
  • Human-Mediated Dispersal: Human activities, such as trade, transportation, and introduction of non-native species, facilitate gene flow across geographic barriers.

Factors Influencing Gene Flow:

  • Physical Barriers: Geographic features, such as mountains, rivers, and oceans, can hinder or facilitate the movement of organisms, affecting gene flow patterns.
  • Ecological Factors: Habitat suitability, availability of resources, and ecological interactions influence the dispersal and establishment of populations, impacting gene flow.
  • Behavioral Traits: Mating preferences, social structures, and dispersal behaviors of organisms contribute to the extent and directionality of gene flow.

Consequences of Gene Flow:

  • Genetic Variation: Gene flow introduces new alleles into populations, increasing genetic diversity and promoting adaptation to changing environments.
  • Homogenization: Continuous gene flow between populations can lead to genetic homogenization, reducing genetic differentiation and promoting genetic similarity.
  • Hybridization: Gene flow between closely related species can result in hybridization, leading to the formation of hybrid individuals with intermediate traits.
  • Speciation: Gene flow can impede or facilitate the process of speciation, depending on its extent and impact on reproductive isolation between populations.

Methods for Studying Gene Flow:

  • Population Genetics: Analyzing genetic markers, such as microsatellites, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and DNA sequences, helps quantify gene flow and genetic differentiation between populations.
  • Parentage Analysis: Studying parent-offspring relationships and kinship patterns provides insights into the dispersal and mating patterns of individuals within populations.
  • Landscape Genetics: Integrating genetic data with landscape features and environmental variables helps assess the influence of landscape heterogeneity on gene flow.

Applications and Importance of Studying Gene Flow:

  • Conservation Biology: Understanding gene flow is crucial for managing fragmented populations, conserving genetic diversity, and mitigating the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • Crop Improvement: Manipulating gene flow can enhance crop breeding programs, facilitate the transfer of beneficial traits, and reduce the spread of undesirable genes, such as transgenes.
  • Public Health: Monitoring gene flow in pathogen populations helps track the spread of drug resistance and emerging infectious diseases, informing disease control strategies.
  • Advances in genomic technologies, such as whole-genome sequencing and high-throughput genotyping, will enhance our ability to quantify gene flow and understand its evolutionary consequences.
  • Addressing the complex interplay between gene flow, genetic drift, and selection requires interdisciplinary approaches integrating population genetics, ecology, and evolutionary biology.
  • Managing human-mediated gene flow, particularly in the context of invasive species and genetically modified organisms, poses ethical, regulatory, and ecological challenges that necessitate careful consideration and governance.

About Genes

  • Genes are fundamental units of heredity, containing the instructions necessary for the development, functioning, and inheritance of traits in living organisms.
  • They encode the information required for synthesizing proteins and regulating various cellular processes.

Structure of Genes:

  • Nucleotide Composition: Genes are composed of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), which consists of four nucleotide bases: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G).
  • Gene Elements: A typical gene consists of regulatory regions, including promoters and enhancers, coding sequences called exons, and non-coding sequences known as introns.
  • Genetic Code: The sequence of nucleotide bases within a gene determines the sequence of amino acids in a protein, following the genetic code.

Function of Genes:

  • Protein Synthesis: Genes serve as templates for synthesizing proteins through the process of gene expression, which involves transcription of DNA into RNA and translation of RNA into proteins.
  • Regulation of Biological Processes: Genes regulate various cellular functions, including metabolism, growth, development, and response to environmental stimuli, through the expression of specific proteins.
  • Inheritance of Traits: Genes are passed from parents to offspring through reproduction, contributing to the inheritance of traits and the continuity of species.

Types of Genes:

  • Structural Genes: Encode proteins that form the structural components of cells and tissues, such as enzymes, structural proteins, and receptors.
  • Regulatory Genes: Control the expression of other genes by modulating transcriptional activity, often through the binding of transcription factors to regulatory sequences.
  • Non-Coding Genes: Encode functional RNA molecules, such as transfer RNA (tRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and microRNAs (miRNAs), involved in various cellular processes.

Genetic Variation and Diversity:

  • Mutation: Genetic variation arises from mutations, which are alterations in the DNA sequence of genes, occurring spontaneously or due to environmental factors.
  • Recombination: During meiosis, genetic recombination occurs, leading to the shuffling of alleles between homologous chromosomes and generating genetic diversity in offspring.

Applications of Genetic Research:

  • Medical Genetics: Genetic research contributes to the understanding and diagnosis of genetic disorders, personalized medicine, and the development of gene therapies.
  • Agricultural Genetics: Genetic studies inform crop breeding programs, enhancing crop yield, disease resistance, and nutritional quality through the selection of desirable traits.
  • Evolutionary Genetics: Studying genes and their variation provides insights into evolutionary processes, population dynamics, and the adaptation of organisms to changing environments.


Q.  Genetic rescue offers a potential solution to mitigate the effects of inbreeding and ensure the population's genetic health. Discuss in the context of tiger conservation in India. (250 Words)