The molecular and mathematical basis of Waddington's epigenetic landscape: A framework for post‐Darwinian biology?

Bioessays 34 (2):149-157 (2012)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The Neo‐Darwinian concept of natural selection is plausible when one assumes a straightforward causation of phenotype by genotype. However, such simple 1:1 mapping must now give place to the modern concepts of gene regulatory networks and gene expression noise. Both can, in the absence of genetic mutations, jointly generate a diversity of inheritable randomly occupied phenotypic states that could also serve as a substrate for natural selection. This form of epigenetic dynamics challenges Neo‐Darwinism. It needs to incorporate the non‐linear, stochastic dynamics of gene networks. A first step is to consider the mathematical correspondence between gene regulatory networks and Waddington's metaphoric ‘epigenetic landscape’, which actually represents the quasi‐potential function of global network dynamics. It explains the coexistence of multiple stable phenotypes within one genotype. The landscape's topography with its attractors is shaped by evolution through mutational re‐wiring of regulatory interactions – offering a link between genetic mutation and sudden, broad evolutionary changes.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,813

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Theoretical Biology and Molecular Biology.C. H. Waddington - 2008 - Biological Theory 3 (3):254-257.
Is the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis Robust Enough to Withstand the Challenge of Recent Discoveries in Molecular Biology and Molecular Evolution?John R. Jungck - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:322 - 328.
Naturalists, Molecular Biologists, and the Challenges of Molecular Evolution.Joel B. Hagen - 1999 - Journal of the History of Biology 32 (2):321 - 341.
Can Darwinian Inheritance Be Extended from Biology to Epistemology?Carla E. Kary - 1982 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1982:356 - 369.
Proteins, the chaperone function and heredity.Valeria Mosini - 2013 - Biology and Philosophy 28 (1):53-74.
Institutionalizing molecular biology in post-war europe: A comparative study.J. B. - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (3):515-546.


Added to PP

79 (#215,228)

6 months
15 (#185,169)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Sui Huang
Institute For Systems Biology Seattle