Genetic Diversity

Genetic variation refers to the variety (or variability of genes) among organisms.  That species has genes that are the source of its own distinctive characteristics: in humans, for example, the vast variety of faces of people represents the genetic identity of that person. The word genetic diversity often includes distinct populations of one species, such as the thousands of various dog breeds or the multiple rose varieties. All types of life on earth contain DNA, whether it is bacteria, plants, animals or human beings. Genetic diversity is the amount of genetic material found in the genes of the plants, animals and micro-organisms concerned. Each species is the storehouse in the form of traits, characteristics, etc. of an enormous amount of genetic material. For many flowering plants the number of genes varies from around 1000 for bacteria to over 400 000. Each species consists of many organisms, and there are virtually no two genetically identical members of the same species. Genetic diversity is important because it helps to sustain a population's health by having useful alleles in resisting diseases , pests and other stresses. If the environment changes, a population with higher allele diversity will be better able to evolve in order to adapt to the new environment.