Sickle Cell Anemia and Natural Selection

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1. The sickle cell disease refers to an ailment whereby an individual inherits some disordered red blood cells from his/her parents. Patients suffering from this ailment have abnormal hemoglobin levels (low hemoglobin stages as a result of the sickle-shaped red blood cells), which leads to a reduce in the amount of oxygen supplied to the body.
2. The sickle cell allele is recessive and, hence, only people who have two copies of the disease’s allele go through from the disease (University of Utah 1).
3. Sickle cell sickness has been found to be more common in areas that experience the tropical climate - the wet and dry seasons – (Tewari et al. 1). Therefore, the main difference between the environments where sickle cell disease is rampant and in areas where the disease is scarce is the climatic conditions. For instance, Tewari and his colleagues found that the disease was more rampant in extremely cold areas.
4. Dr. Tony Allison pointed out that individuals who possessed the sickle-cell trait were in a better position to resist malaria. As he carried out his research in Kenya, he found that the sickle-cell trait – while in its heterozygous state – was more prevalent among people within the coastal areas. Further research enabled him to conclude that, the trend was so because the disease (sickle cell) had a selective advantage over malaria. According to him, people with the heterozygous state have very few parasites within their blood, which made them resistant to the malaria parasites.
5. As the technological advancements lead to a decrease in the rate of malaria contraction among people, the sickle cell allele would come to an end. In such a scenario, people with the allele will no longer have more chances of survival than those who do not have the allele.
6. Inbreeding is a term that is used to refer to the reproduction of organisms as a result of the mating of organisms that are closely related regarding genetic composition. Inbreeding may result in adverse effects within a population of organisms as it is associated with several negative effects. Some of the notable effects include an increase in the number of metabolic disorders among members of the same population, an upsurge of the structural abnormalities that might be witnessed among parents as well as an increase in the number of the inherited ailments that might be a result of the recessive genes found in the parents (Lancaster 1). Ultimately, inbreeding would lead to the loss of vitality, a case referred to as inbreeding depression. At such a point, the overall number of the members of a population starts to decline due to factors such as being incapable of resisting diseases and as a result of an increase in diseases amongst them as well. The continuous occurrence of this trend would eventually wipe out some organisms, hence, making them extinct. Therefore, inbreeding may result in far-reaching consequences among members of a population, including making such organisms extinct.
7. As mentioned above, the prevalence of some of the chronic diseases within a population might be as a result of inbreeding. Therefore, it would be rational to argue that inbreeding would lead to the increased spread of sickle cell among members of the same population. In addition, cases of genetic diseases (key among them being the sickle cell disease) have been rampant in nations that encourage inbreeding – for instance, in Saudi Arabia (Kershaw 1). Marrying a member of one’s family (inbreeding) is a tradition that has been exercised in Saudi Arabia for quite a long time, which has consequently led to an increase in the number of genetic disorders witnessed in the nation.

Works Cited

Kershaw, Sara. "‘Saudi Arabia Awakes To The Perils of Inbreeding.’." 2003. The New York Times. 22 July 2017 <http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/01/world/saudi-arabia-awakes-to-the-perils-of-inbreeding.html>. Accessed 24 July, 2017.
Lancaster, F. "‘Genetic and Quantitative Aspects of Genealogy.’." 2015. Genetic Genealogy. 22 July 2017 <http://www.genetic-genealogy.co.uk/Toc115570143.html>. Accessed 24 July, 2017.
Tewari, Sanjay, Valentine Brouse and Stephan Menzel. "‘Environmental Determinants of Severity in Sickle Cell Disease.’." U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health (2015).
University of Utah. "‘What Are Dominant and Recessive?’." n.d. University of Utah. 22 July 2017 <http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/patterns/>. Accessed 24 July, 2017.

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