If you're familiar with the game Assassin's Creed
(it also has a movie if you're not very enthusiastic in playing), you might have known the possibility of reliving one's ancestor's memories on which the protagonist depicts through the machine called Animus. While this occurrence called epigenetic inheritance is still heavily debated, a new study
shows that it's actually quite possible.
Researchers from the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO) in Spain discovered that environmental genetic inheritance can be passed down for up to 14 generations in nematodes (C. elegans), a type of roundworm with a short lifespan.
The scientists started with genetically modifying these nematodes to make them carry a transgene for a luminous protein that when activated, makes the worms glow under UV light. They then placed the worms in an environment with a temperature of 20° Celsius which made them glow dimly. Conversely, moving these worms to a warmer environment (25° Celsius) made them glow brightly. But when the scientists moved it back to the cold environment, the worms still continued to glow brightly which suggested that 'environmental memory' or the memory of the warm environment was retained.
What's really incredible is when they kept five generations of these nematodes at 25° Celsius and then transferred their offspring to colder temperatures, the worms continued to have such glowing mechanism for up to 14 generations!
Co-researcher Tanya Vavouri from the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute in Spain said, "Worms are very short-lived, so perhaps they are transmitting memories of past conditions to help their descendants predict what their environment might be like in the future." But while the researchers said that these worms' genetic makeup and ours aren't that different, studying such epigenetic inheritance on humans is still very complicated. As what an article
said, "Inherited effects in humans are difficult to measure due to the long generation times and difficulty with accurate record keeping."
Nonetheless, that doesn't stop me from believing that like Assassin's Creed's protagonist, I will relive my ancestors memories someday.