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Do quantum mechanical properties of particles, such as uncertainty, probability, tunneling, and so on, affect mutations in the genome?

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    $\begingroup$ I am only saying that the mechanisms in genetics are explicable in terms of general chemistry. Quantum biology, as far as I am aware, is mainly concerned with the energetics in systems like photosynthesis, which, although involving biological molecules, are essentially problems in their chemistry. Delbrück did not do quantum biology. However others may be aware of things I am not. $\endgroup$
    – David
    Mar 30, 2022 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ Did you google that question [processes and mechanisms in genetics that can be explained by quantum mechanics]? Because the answer is yes, they affect mutations, on the very first hit (of my search.) Third: Why does DNA spontaneously mutate? Quantum physics might explain.. [emphasis mine] So you probably knew the answer already, asking such a very specific yet detail-less question. Oh, and yeah, tunneling and waves and stuff. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2022 at 15:59
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse I think David's point is that the quantum part is only necessary for understanding the physics of the chemical reactions, not things we ordinarily care about at the level of cells and organisms. Much like how relativity affects every physical interaction, yet if you want to know how long it takes for a ball you drop to hit the floor, Newton is entirely sufficient up to a very small rounding error. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 30, 2022 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse I think these things raise some hackles because there's a tendency for people working in the quantum world to over-extend the value of their work into criticizing those who work with a simpler model or claiming their model is important because it's more accurate or is a "real" explanation or something, and it sounds cool because "quantum" is such a buzz word, yet offers no added real predictive value to models at a higher level that explain the world just fine. It's like if every time a physics TA writes F = ma on the board, a student in the back screams THAT EQUATION IS WRONG $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Mar 30, 2022 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause I'll try to give an example. Quantum tunneling is a purely quantum effect that is not present in classical physics and conventional chemistry. If there was a mutation mechanism that would be caused by quantum tunneling, that would be the answer to my question. $\endgroup$ Mar 30, 2022 at 17:20

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Yes. (I mean, that's the answer to your question. You didn't ask for specifics.)

From Quantum and classical effects in DNA point mutations: Watson–Crick tautomerism in AT and GC base pairs:

Proton transfer along the hydrogen bonds of DNA can lead to the creation of short-lived, but biologically relevant point mutations that can further lead to gene mutation and, potentially, cancer.

So that's proton tunneling at work in DNA.

This isn't really a new idea. I found one paper theorizing this from the 80's.

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