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Thread: Genetic Components of Metamorphagi

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    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Genetic Components of Metamorphagi

    I have been wondering a great deal of thinking about Metamorphagi lately, and I have a good idea of just how rare they are. But I do have other ponderings on the topic.

    We seem to have a good understanding of the genetic components of a Muggle-born wizard, but now I wonder about the genetic components of a Metamorphagus. We know that a Metamorphai doesn't need to be a pureblood witch or wizard, but can a witch or wizard with a Muggle parent possibly be a Metamorphagus?

    Someone who has done a great deal of study in genetics would be really helpful. I assume the gene for the abilities of a Metamorphagus are either recessive or carrier. Do you think the fact that Tonks herself is a Metamorphagus increased the chances of Teddy being born with the ability? Does anyone know of any genetic illnesses I could study that you think would be at all similar to this ability?

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    Seventh Year Ravenclaw
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Do you think the fact that Tonks herself is a Metamorphagus increased the chances of Teddy being born with the ability?
    I know next to nothing about genetics, but I would assume that Tonks being a Metamorphmagus increased the chances of Teddy being born with the same ability.

    However, we must take into account how often the trait is passed down from each generation. If all that was required to be a Metamorphmagus was to have one parent with the trait, then this ability would be far more common than described in the book. I suppose Teddy is a unique case, in which he became a Metamorphmagus not just because of his mother, but also because of Remus, who might have something in his genes from being a werewolf about changing body shape - but of course, that opens the debate on whether Lycanthropy does anything to your genes or not.

    Anyway, I would personally be wary of trying to apply genetics to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Trying to quantify magical properties generally seems to be an exercise in futility.

    Tim the Enchanter

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    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Maybe it doesn't have anything to do with dominant or recessive genes. Maybe it's more like a gene mutation.

    I know of a genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome that is cause by a genetic mutation, and it is only genetic when one of the parents has the disorder. This could be a possibility, but then I think it would just make for Metamorphagi being a lot more common.

    Maybe having a Metamorphagus for a parent just increases the likelyhood of the gene mutation, but nothing is for certain.

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    Seventh Year Gryffindor
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim the Enchanter
    However, we must take into account how often the trait is passed down from each generation. If all that was required to be a Metamorphmagus was to have one parent with the trait, then this ability would be far more common than described in the book. I suppose Teddy is a unique case, in which he became a Metamorphmagus not just because of his mother, but also because of Remus, who might have something in his genes from being a werewolf about changing body shape - but of course, that opens the debate on whether Lycanthropy does anything to your genes or not.
    I agree with you that it could have something to do with Lupin, but I doubt it has anything to do with his Lycantrophy. Teddy seems to be fine in the werewolf-department, and I doubt that being a werewolf would change Lupin in his stem cells. However, maybe there was a Metamorphmagus generations back in Lupin's family - similar to how it's possible that there were wizards generations back in the family of a muggleborn. Then, if the gene was recessive and only came to show if there was some trace of it in both parents, that would explain why it happened with Teddy - and why, apparently, none of Tonks' parents are Metamorphmagi, but she is. I don't have names of any specific illnesses here right now, but I'm almost 100% sure that there are illnesses that require both parents to carry a certain gene. It wouldn't show in them, because one of their parents (the child's grandparents) didn't have it, but since the parent-generation both have it (and the requirement of that being the case slims chances of it actually happening down A LOT), the "results"/symptoms show in the child.

    Trying with an example... Lupin's paternal great great great great grandfather (I'll call him F from now) was a Metamorphmagus; his wife, however, was not, and no one in the Lupin family met/married a Metamorphmagus from then. However, all the descendants of that F had the gene to potentially produce a Metamorphmagus. (and, of course, the other way round, the gene must have been in the family before F)

    Ted Tonks had another ancestor who no one ever knew of, who was a wizard and also a Metamorphmagus (let's call him G). Also, Isla Black's maternal great great grandmother (yeah that's some old woman we're talking about, and she's called H) was one. Now, since none of their offsprings' offsprings ever married/had a child with another M-gene carrier, the Metamorphmagism didn't show in their families for a long time, and probably no one even knew by the 1970s. However, when the descendants of H and G - who both carried the recessive gene - had a child, Tonks got the gene from both sides, and turned out a "true" Metamorphmagus. And then the same would go for her and the offspring of F. But you see how extremely unlikely it is that something like that would happen - the descendants of two RARE Metamorphmagi meeting, AND having a child?

    I don't know if that is how JKR would explain it... maybe it's more of a chance thing, like if you are one, you have a 25:75 chance that your child becomes one too...
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    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Yes, it is very complicated, but I simply cannot let it go. That is why I find myself pondering if it has more to do with a gene mutation after conseption as opposed to inherited genes.

    Any other thoughts or ideas?

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    Double-posting because I have something else I have been wondering about when it comes to Metamorphagi.

    Do you think a person needs to have two wizard parents in order to be a Metamorphagus? The only instances we have seen of this comes from wizards with two wizarding parents. But what I wonder is if it possible to have a Muggle-born Metamorphagus, or a Metamorphagus born to a wizarding and a Muggle parent?

    If Metamorphagus abilities were gene-based, then it would probably only be for two wizarding parents, but if it is cause by a gene mutation, then the later could be possible.

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  7. #7
    circlemidnight
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    I thought it's possible to have a mentamorphagus from squibs, since they have magical genes, but dunno about muggle-born squibs

  8. #8
    Bubblesinmyhead
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    Well...

    Perhaps it is only part gene mutation, but I thought that it said in the books you could teach yourself? Or, could your innate magical ability have something to do with it? Tonks was quite the witch... maybe you can only use the ability if you have extraordinary magical skills. What do you think?

  9. #9
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    It was an innate ability. After all, Teddy was able to change the color of his hair when he was only days old (and trust me, you can't teach a baby to do anything! They learn it all on their own), and remember how Tonks was unable to use her absilities after becoming so upset about Remus?

    I think it is more or less a concesis that Metamorphagism is an innate ability, and as we see from Tonks and Teddy, a genetic one as well. The only question is, how do the genetics behind it all work?

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  10. #10
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    Karaley Dargens ideas are really wonderful, but a little unlikely.

    similar to how it's possible that there were wizards generations back in the family of a muggleborn.
    Is it possible? Because, if you are the descendant of a witch or wizard, aren't you a half blood, no matter who you marry? Unless you are a squib, of course. This makes me think further, though. Because, if all of the wizards/witches reproduced, then we would have a lot of magical children, wouldn't we. Which would mean that the size of the wizarding community would be very rapidly increasing, which would also mean a lot more a lot more secrecy among humans, and wouldn't it also mean that either 1. there would now be less muggles than wizards (resulting in hundreds of thousands of wizarding schools) or 2. the same ratio of muggles > wizards, just increased. I am thinking that the 2nd option is a lot more likely. I just don't think it actually works very well. Because, if more wizards are reproducing, then that doesn't make any more muggles, does it? It only results in more muggles because the population is growing. Wizards or not.

    Okay, I am really over thinking this...

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    P.S. This is probably so not the place to post this, but my ideas came from the thread... *ponders*

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