Biological Theory 10 (1):36-49 (2015)
AbstractIn a recent opinion piece, Denis Duboule has claimed that the increasing shift towards systems biology is driving evolutionary and developmental biology apart, and that a true reunification of these two disciplines within the framework of evolutionary developmental biology may easily take another 100 years. He identifies methodological, epistemological, and social differences as causes for this supposed separation. Our article provides a contrasting view. We argue that Duboule’s prediction is based on a one-sided understanding of systems biology as a science that is only interested in functional, not evolutionary, aspects of biological processes. Instead, we propose a research program for an evolutionary systems biology, which is based on local exploration of the configuration space in evolving developmental systems. We call this approach—which is based on reverse engineering, simulation, and mathematical analysis—the natural history of configuration space. We discuss a number of illustrative examples that demonstrate the past success of local exploration, as opposed to global mapping, in different biological contexts. We argue that this pragmatic mode of inquiry can be extended and applied to the mathematical analysis of the developmental repertoire and evolutionary potential of evolving developmental mechanisms and that evolutionary systems biology so conceived provides a pragmatic epistemological framework for the EvoDevo synthesis
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Citations of this work
The Emerging Structure of the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis: Where Does Evo-Devo Fit In?Alejandro Fábregas-Tejeda & Francisco Vergara-Silva - 2018 - Theory in Biosciences 137.
A Roomful of Robovacs: How to Think About Genetic Programs.Brett Calcott - 2020 - In Sune Hannibal Holm & Maria Serban (eds.), Philosophical Perspectives on the Engineering Approach in Biology: Living Machines?
A Philosophical Perspective on Evolutionary Systems Biology.Maureen A. O’Malley, Orkun S. Soyer & Mark L. Siegal - 2015 - Biological Theory 10 (1):6-17.
Did Human Culture Emerge in a Cultural Evolutionary Transition in Individuality?Dinah R. Davison, Claes Andersson, Richard E. Michod & Steven L. Kuhn - 2021 - Biological Theory 16 (4):213-236.
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