Home » Evolutionary biology, News » EMBO workshop focuses on “phenomena that are not part of the traditional narrative of molecular evolution … ”

EMBO workshop focuses on “phenomena that are not part of the traditional narrative of molecular evolution … ”

EMBO workshop focuses on “ phenomena that are not part of the traditional narrative of molecular evolution … ”

In “A half-century after the molecular clock: new dimensions of molecular evolution” (EMBO Reports, EMBO reports VOL 13 | NO 8 | 2012), Eugene Koonin writes

The EMBO workshop on ‘Evolution in the Time of Genomics’ took place in May 2012 in the magnificent sixteenth century Palazzo Franchetti near Ponte dell’Accademia in Venice. The meeting focused on phenomena that are not part of the traditional narrative of molecular evolution and which might signal a paradigm shift in the field.

He goes on to say, in the Conclusion,

New balance of chance and necessity

It is impossible to deny that our ideas on evolution are shifting from the simple and rigid ‘random mutation–selective fixation’ scheme epitomized in the Modern Synthesis, to a much more complex, nuanced picture. Under the new view, the interplay between stochasticity and adaptive mechanisms is extensive and essential, both in the generation of variation and in the fixation of the changes (Fig 1A; [19]). The background of random mutations that inevitably occur, during the replication of the genetic material, certainly remains the foundation of the evolutionary process. However, it has become clear that this random background is extensively manipulated, regulated and channelled by various evolvability mechanisms.

The ultimate manifestation of these mechanisms is direct, Lamarckian adaptation through environmentally driven changes in the genome, as in the case of the CRISPRCas system. Conversely, the fixation of mutations includes a significant random component—genetic drift, the intensity of which depends on population dynamics—that, counterintuitively, can lead to the emergence of complex features that superficially seem to be adaptive [8]

“This random background is extensively manipulated, regulated and channelled by various evolvability mechanisms”?  ”Lamarckian adaptation”?

The article is paywalled, unfortunately, but you doubtless get the genetic drift.

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3 Responses to EMBO workshop focuses on “phenomena that are not part of the traditional narrative of molecular evolution … ”

  1. as to:

    It is impossible to deny that our ideas on evolution are shifting from the simple and rigid ‘random mutation–selective fixation’ scheme epitomized in the Modern Synthesis, to a much more complex, nuanced picture. Under the new view, the interplay between stochasticity and adaptive mechanisms is extensive and essential, both in the generation of variation and in the fixation of the changes

    to which we can ask “geocentrism revisited?”:

    Science and Pseudoscience (transcript) -
    “In degenerating programmes, however, theories are fabricated only in order to accommodate known facts” – Lakatos
    http://www2.lse.ac.uk/philosop.....cript.aspx

  2. Here’s something for ID peeps. On the basis of amino acid sequence comparison, and of some available crystal structures, there is no conservation between the proteins involved in RNAi and in CRISPR/Cas; hence, there is no homology, and all point at individual inventions of both defense systems (although the key protein (Ago) is found in some bacteria and archaea). In addition, most CRISPR/Cas systems appear to target DNA rather than RNA.

    However, there is a conceptual similarity between the CRISPR/Cas system in prokaryotes (Archaea and Bacteria) with the eukaryotic RNAi system; the analogy concerns:
    (i) small RNA is being used to guide a complex to a target nucleic acid of an invading genetic element (virus, plasmid)

    (ii) specificity of the interaction is brought about by basepairing

    (iii) neutralization of the “alien invasion” proceeds via degradation of the target nucleic acid (siRNA, most likely CRISPR/Cas), or via tight binding that results in blocking of translation (miRNA).

  3. Starbuck, I’m not sure what your point is as there is no conclusory statement. Certainly similar engineering problems in different domains tend to find conceptually similar solutions. But I have no idea as to whether you wish me to consider it in an unguided engineering process or a guided one. Or how, no matter which, any difference in consistency or predictions could arise between the two.

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