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Changing Planet: Changing Mosquito Genes - Windows to the Universe

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Science, Evolution, and Creationism, by the National Academies, focuses on teaching evolution in today's classrooms. Check out the other publications in our online store.

Changing Planet: Changing Mosquito Genes

DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, which is a substance found in every living cell on Earth.  Diversity happens naturally because of the way DNA is copied in the cell (sometimes the cell makes a mistake as it makes a copy of the DNA, and a "difference" is made).

Changes are constantly occurring in all species' DNA sequences, and the changes that have a positive effect on an organism tend to be passed on to the next generation.  This is called natural selection, and it's the process that shapes life on Earth.  It's important to remember that natural selection is still happening, and as a species encounters changes in its environment (like new climate patterns, new predators, or new prey), its DNA changes to adapt to its new situation (for instance, an insect that is being preyed upon by a new predator may adapt by changing its color so it is less easily seen by the new predator).  This is easy to see in the example of the mosquitoes in this lesson, where a population of pitcher plant mosquitoes is adapting to climate changes by lengthening their growing season.

Click on the video at the left to watch the NBC Learn video - Changing Planet: Changing Mosquito Genes.

Lesson plan: Changing Mosquito Genes

Last modified October 26, 2011 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Traveling Nitrogen is a fun group game appropriate for the classroom. Players follow nitrogen atoms through living and nonliving parts of the nitrogen cycle. For grades 5-9.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF