We are more than the sum of our genes. Environmental influences such as diet, trauma, illness or our lifestyle are able to turn certain genes on or off.
Scientists compare these new insights with the image of a piano: the strings and keys represent the genes, but only the striking of the keys brings the melody of life to reality. A long-cherished dogma of biology is thereby overturned: the idea that the properties of an organism are unchangeably determined by the inherited genetic material.
Kurt Langbein and Andrea Eder traveled throughout Europe to capture what the young research community "epigenetics" has discovered in the decade that is coming to an end. Mice babies, for example, who have been separated from their mother for a few hours, suffer from the trauma episodes with massive health problems - and pass them on until the 5th generation. People who were conceived during the Dutch hunger winter of 1944 are increasingly suffering from metabolic disorders - and their children as well. "We existed in part already in the body of our grandmother. The egg that we originated from became two generations before we were born, "says Amsterdam biologist Tessa Roseboom, commenting on the results of the study.
In fact, epigenetics show that even subtle environmental changes affect our genetic material - new research shows that the onset of disease or the alteration of personality traits can be epigenetically influenced - also back in the positive direction.
Direction: Kurt Langbein, Andrea Eder | DOP: Christian Roth | Sound: Martin Kadlez | Editor: Sonja Lesowsky | Narrator: | Voice Over: Nicole Weber Angelika Lang | Production Management: Barbara Kainberger | Production Assistant: Jennifer Bittner | Producer: Kurt Langbein | Production ORF: Gabriele Wistawel, Karin Fleischl-Sommer | Editorial Office ORF: Christoph Guggenberger | Overall Management: Barbara Krenn
TV Documentary | Austria | 2019 | Series: Kreuz & Quer
52 minutes | HD
Broadcast: ORF 2 on the 10.12.2019 at 22:35
A production by Langbein & Partner on behalf of the ORF