Monday, May 20, 2013

Is Physiology Rocking the Foundations of Evolutionary Biology?

This looks interesting: Physiology is Rocking the Foundations of Evolutionary Biology:

 "New Findings 
•  What is the Topic of this review? Have recent experimental findings in evolutionary biology concerning the transmission of inheritance opened the way to a reintegration of physiology with evolutionary biology?
 •  What advances does it highlight? The answer is yes, and that this requires a new synthesis between evolutionary theory and experimental physiology. 

The ‘Modern Synthesis’ (Neo-Darwinism) is a mid-20th century gene-centric view of evolution, based on random mutations accumulating to produce gradual change through natural selection. Any role of physiological function in influencing genetic inheritance was excluded. The organism became a mere carrier of the real objects of selection, its genes. We now know that genetic change is far from random and often not gradual. Molecular genetics and genome sequencing have deconstructed this unnecessarily restrictive view of evolution in a way that reintroduces physiological function and interactions with the environment as factors influencing the speed and nature of inherited change. Acquired characteristics can be inherited, and in a few but growing number of cases that inheritance has now been shown to be robust for many generations. The 21st century can look forward to a new synthesis that will reintegrate physiology with evolutionary biology."

HT: Uncommon Descent, Nullasullus


Jon Garvey said...


I've read some of Noble's earlier stuff. His approach is very much along the line of complex feedback loops and so on, or in other words emergent natural properties.

But then Shapiro's approach would fit that too.

In any case it seems to me that such a purposive physiology raises the same questions as design generally - who made organisms able to design their successors?

Another thin occurs to me - how can one decide that organisms are goal-orienatated if design is said to be undetectable scientifically?

Bilbo said...

I think Aristotelians would say the answer to your second question would be that science needs to return to Aristotle's concepts of cause.