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A new wild strain of nopal cactus has been identified as having remarkable promise to solve the international dietary manganese deficit by increasing total prickly pear yield per area unit of soil. It was discovered growing on a single mountain chain that receives an unusual amount of cloud cover, precipitation, and bird migration. Plant geneticists have identified a single short gene sequence alteration that differs from current nopal catci already being cultivated in the surrounding area.
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Wild strain: AUG UUA GCC GUG GGA (corresponding to amino acids met, leu, ala, val, gly)
Cultivar strain: AUG CUG ACG GUG AGG (corresponding to amino acids met, leu, thr, val, arg)
Discuss each step of how this series of letters ends up in a protein. Which triplet differences between the two strains may have the greatest effect on the protein being expressed by this gene sequence? Finally, speculate on how the new “cloudy” strain came to dominate that single area, and whether you think this represents a new species.