Changes in handedness of DNA (triggered by a magnetic reversal) would lead to gene activation or deactivation, differential gene expression, and a change in gene frequency that drives evolution.
So says this paper by Jay A. Yoder, Ph.D.
Dept of Biology, The Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL 62650.
Here are a few excerpts:
Geomagnetic polarity reversal – A theoretical modus operandi of evolution
“Discontinuities in the fossil record provide the basis for the evolutionary theory of punctuated-equilibrium proposed by Eldredge and Gould,” says Yoder.
“Their theory suggests that the production of new species (as evidence of evolution) occurs by rapid bursts that are delineated by long periods (50,000 – 100,000 years in most cases) of stasis where no apparent changes take place.
“Clearly, to produce a significant evolutionary burst of this magnitude would require a most striking event leading to an abrupt change in gene frequency. Of the forces that are touted to alter gene frequency and drive evolution, none appear capable of generating such a dramatic alteration so quickly.
“One possibility could involve magnetic (polarity) reversal, a relatively rapid change in the polarity of Earth’s geomagnetic field where the North Pole becomes the south magnetic pole and vice versa.
“This theoretical force of evolution operates on Ecke et al.’s newly-discovered relationship between chiral symmetry (= handedness) and the orientation of the magnetic field.
“With regard to DNA, a change in the orientation of the magnetic field would therefore translate into a left-handed (counterclockwise spiral) to right-hand (clockwise spiral) switch (Z-DNA to B-DNA that can now be transcribed) or the reverse (B-DNA to Z-DNA whose role may be involved with regulating expression of certain genes or in genetic recombination).
“Such changes in handedness of DNA would lead to gene activation or deactivation… differential gene expression, and a change in gene frequency that drives evolution.
Most strikingly, as is well known to geologists, reversals in the orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field occur every 10,000 – 100,000 years (Jacobs 1984) and thus, the pronounced bursts of speciation associated with punctuated-equilibrium evolution are reflected by abrupt changes in gene frequency as a result thereof.”
See entire article, including citations:
Thanks to Jan Roger Oomkins for this link
Yoder’s paper was published in 1997. If I had known about it, I certainly would have referred to it in “Magnetic Reversals and Evolutionary Leaps.”