This conversation reminds me of a bunch of things:
(1) Since the genome has fewer genes than first thought, genes
likely work together in ways more complicated than expected,
or are joined in their operation by underestimated external
influences. One take on the subject, which is really too
"A Map to Nowhere"
(2) David Brin's short story, "The Giving Plague", which
suggests that beneficial behaviors and traits may be
communicated by germ agents; we just haven't been moved
to rigorously look.
(3) The case advanced by various researchers that ailments
long considered environmental or hereditary may be actually
be caused by contagions. See:
"A New Germ Theory"
& "Pet Theory: Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia?"
(4) Greg Bear's sci-fi novel, 'Darwin's Radio', which
suggests viruses carry hereditable traits between individuals,
even to the point of helping choose traits from a giant
species-wide codebook of stored-up, dormant adaptations.
Altogether, I wouldn't be surprised if researchers soon find
that things like viruses and other factors exogenous to the
traditional "genome" play a major role in shaping the change
of organisms across generations.
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