Game of Thrones and DNA: How genetics could explain some of the unhinged behavior


The White Walkers are on the move (slowly) and political stability in Westeros remains on edge.  How did things get so challenging?

One part of that answer is genetics. …

Mohamed Noor, professor of biology and winner of the prestigious international Darwin-Wallace Medal for evolutionary studies, says “Game of Thrones” offers useful lessons for understanding rules of inheritance, recessive mutations, and the nuanced connection between genetics and behavior.

Q: So Joffrey. His parents are siblings. He is power crazed and prone to violence. What might lead you to conclude the two are connected?

NOOR: Some of our personality traits and behaviors have a genetic component. … Imagine that Joffrey’s grandfather, Tywin Lannister, had a bad mutation in one of his two copies of a gene affecting empathy. …

Tywin may well pass along the broken copy of an empathy gene to his kids, Cersei and Jamie Lannister. …

However, if Cersei and Jamie have a kid with each other, there’s a 25 percent chance that kid will get two broken copies of this gene affecting empathy. That kid might then exhibit a psychiatric disorder like an extreme lack of empathy. Sounds like Joffrey!…

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Q: Spoiler Alert! Many, many viewers, and I mean many, have been rooting for Dany Targaryen and Jon Snow get together in end. Is there any genetic reason that we might be concerned about such an outcome?

NOOR: YES! Daenerys (I can’t say Dany) is Jon Snow’s aunt, so they, too, are likely to share on average 25 percent of their DNA. If both inherited some bad mutations, perhaps from King Aerys Targaryen II (the “Mad King”), it’s possible those bad mutations would not be masked by normal copies of the resulting genes, and the offspring may have a genetic disorder.

Read full, original post: The Genetics of Game of Thrones, or How Joffrey Became Such a Jerk

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