I thought genetic mutation changes genes and therefore evolution happens, but it doesn't explain how chromosomes are created/removed if the first organism had a set amount and now all the organisms have different numbers of chromosomes. How does this happen?

  • $\begingroup$ Your understanding of evolution is over-simplified. There are chemicals (colchicine is a common one) which can cause the number of chromosomes in a cell to double. This is regularly used in e.g. plant breeding, as multiploidy often makes larger & stronger plants. Do a search on "inducing tetraploidy in plants" if you're interested. Other copying errors can affect single chromosomes &c. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    May 9 '18 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ Number of chromosomes. Amount of DNA. $\endgroup$
    – David
    May 9 '18 at 11:33
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about hte origin of chromosomes or how they change?Bacterial chromosomes are very different than eukaryotic chromosomes so which are you talking about? $\endgroup$
    – John
    May 9 '18 at 20:57

A mutation is a general term referring to any alteration of a nucleotidic sequence. It includes small mutations like indels (insertion or deletion of a single nucleotide) and substitutions, or bigger mutations such as e.g. chromosome fusions, whole chromosome duplications, whole genome duplications and gene deletions. So yes, some mutations do change the number of chromosomes (and ploidy number).

If you are interested in a very short and very introductory course to evolutionary biology, consider having a look at Understanding Evolution by UC Berkeley


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