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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Nov 30;99(22):228107. Epub 2007 Nov 30.

Spontaneous emergence of modularity in a model of evolving individuals.

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Department of Physics & Astronomy and Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, Texas 77005-1892, USA.


We investigate the selective forces that promote the emergence of modularity in nature. We demonstrate the spontaneous emergence of modularity in a population of individuals that evolve in a changing environment. We show that the level of modularity correlates with the rapidity and severity of environmental change. The modularity arises as a synergistic response to the noise in the environment in the presence of horizontal gene transfer. We suggest that the hierarchical structure observed in the natural world may be a broken-symmetry state, which generically results from evolution in a changing environment.

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