Epistasis Blog

From the Computational Genetics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania (www.epistasis.org)

Monday, August 03, 2009

The genome-centric concept: resynthesis of evolutionary theory

A call to move beyond the 'one gene at a time approach' to the study of evolution. Very relevant to human genetics. I found this paper by searching PubMed for "complex system". I also love this journal.

Heng HH. The genome-centric concept: resynthesis of evolutionary theory. Bioessays. 2009 May;31(5):512-25. [PubMed]

Modern biology has been heavily influenced by the gene-centric concept. Paradoxically, this very concept--on which bioresearch is based--is challenged by the success of gene-based research in terms of explaining evolutionary theory. To overcome this major roadblock, it is essential to establish new theories, to not only solve the key puzzles presented by the gene-centric concept, but also to provide a conceptual framework that allows the field to grow. This paper discusses a number of paradoxes and illustrates how they can be addressed by the genome-centric concept in order to further resynthesize evolutionary theory. In particular, methodological breakthroughs that analyze genome evolution are discussed. The multiple interactions among different levels of a complex system provide the key to understanding the relationship between self-organization and natural selection. Darwinian natural selection applies to the biological level due to its unique genetic and heterogeneous features, but does not simply or directly apply to either the lower non-living level or higher intellectual society level. At the complex bio-system level, the genome context (the entire package of genes and their genomic physical relationship or genomic topology), not the individual genes, defines the system and serves as the principle selection platform for evolution.

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