[Research Proposal] Mutation & Inheritance: The Long Term Effects of Naturally Occurring Radiation on Living Systems
This research proposal seeks to investigate the possibility that naturally occurring radiation (background radiation) could alter species composition (genotype → phenotype) over extended timeframes. We look to establish a parallel between changed levels of natural radiation and significant evolutionary events. In particular, we will draw our attention to the establishment of a modern atmosphere and the changes in radiation levels that came thereafter. Our study will focus less on early microbial life, and more on modern vertebrates/invertebrates and the subsequent colonization of land species that took place after the ozone layer was established. By implementing a reliable framework in which to test and evaluate genetic variance over successive generations, we will demonstrate that naturally occurring radiation is more influential in creating genetic variance than previously thought. In doing so, we hope to create a standard model for determining expectancies in population genetics based on exposure to multiple levels of radiation.