A fragilidade das hipóteses adaptativas para as origens da complexidade do organismo

sexta-feira, junho 10, 2011

The frailty of adaptive hypotheses for the origins of organismal complexity 

Michael Lynch *

Author Affiliations

Department of Biology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405


The vast majority of biologists engaged in evolutionary studies interpret virtually every aspect of biodiversity in adaptive terms. This narrow view of evolution has become untenable in light of recent observations from genomic sequencing and population-genetic theory. Numerous aspects of genomic architecture, gene structure, and developmental pathways are difficult to explain without invoking the nonadaptive forces of genetic drift and mutation. In addition, emergent biological features such as complexity, modularity, and evolvability, all of which are current targets of considerable speculation, may be nothing more than indirect by-products of processes operating at lower levels of organization. These issues are examined in the context of the view that the origins of many aspects of biological diversity, from gene-structural embellishments to novelties at the phenotypic level, have roots in nonadaptive processes, with the population-genetic environment imposing strong directionality on the paths that are open to evolutionary exploitation.

adaptation, genome evolution, evolvability, modularity population genetics


Author contributions: M.L. designed research, performed research, contributed new analytic tools, analyzed data, and wrote the paper.

This paper results from the Arthur M. Sackler Colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences, “In the Light of Evolution I: Adaptation and Complex Design,” held December 1–2, 2006, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering in Irvine, CA. 

The complete program is available on the NAS web site at www.nasonline.org/adaptation_and_complex_design.The author declares no conflict of interest.© 2007 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA.