Biologia funcional no seu contexto natural: mero acaso, fortuita necessidade ou design inteligente?

quarta-feira, junho 09, 2021

Functional biology in its natural context: A search for emergent simplicity

Joy Bergelson, Martin Kreitman, Dmitri A Petrov, Alvaro Sanchez, Mikhail Tikhonov

Department of Ecology & Evolution, University of Chicago, United States; 
Department of Biology, Stanford University, United States; 
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, United States; Department of Physics, Washington University in St Louis, United States

Review Article Jun 7, 2021


The immeasurable complexity at every level of biological organization creates a daunting task for understanding biological function. Here, we highlight the risks of stripping it away at the outset and discuss a possible path toward arriving at emergent simplicity of understanding while still embracing the ever-changing complexity of biotic interactions that we see in nature.


As we have argued, the enterprise of studying organisms in isolation and as static, already evolved entities, while hugely successful, is also profoundly limited. Our belief, which lies in contrast to Jacques Monod’s famous dictum — ‘Anything found to be true of E. coli must also be true of elephants’ — is that much of what one learns about the functional behavior of E.coli in isolation hardly even extends to E.coli in the gut, let alone to elephants in the savannah. The heart of our proposal, here, is thus the creation of a new field of Function of Evolving Systems that focuses on the function of organisms in the communities in which they reside, over periods of time when interactions evolve. It is both exciting intellectually, and essential practically.