Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2007 Nov 28;2(11):e1231.

Beyond the gene.

Author information

Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.


This paper is a response to the increasing difficulty biologists find in agreeing upon a definition of the gene, and indeed, the increasing disarray in which that concept finds itself. After briefly reviewing these problems, we propose an alternative to both the concept and the word gene-an alternative that, like the gene, is intended to capture the essence of inheritance, but which is both richer and more expressive. It is also clearer in its separation of what the organism statically is (what it tangibly inherits) and what it dynamically does (its functionality and behavior). Our proposal of a genetic functor, or genitor, is a sweeping extension of the classical genotype/phenotype paradigm, yet it appears to be faithful to the findings of contemporary biology, encompassing many of the recently emerging-and surprisingly complex-links between structure and functionality.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center