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Exp Physiol. 2013 Aug;98(8):1235-43. doi: 10.1113/expphysiol.2012.071134. Epub 2013 Apr 12.

Physiology is rocking the foundations of evolutionary biology.

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1
Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics, Oxford, UK. denis.noble@dpag.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

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.

PMID:
23585325
DOI:
10.1113/expphysiol.2012.071134
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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