“So far, genomic instability has been observed in cells in culture and in nonhuman organisms ranging from worms to rats. Understanding the nature of genomic instability has not proved possible within the conventional framework of biology, namely genetics. What is presented here is a major reformulation of the way biology works… The concepts used are more soundly based in physics than those used in conventional biology and the hypothesis has considerable explanatory power. It is therefore reasonable to try to formulate the long-term consequences of genomic instability. These are, over several generations, a progressive decline in the healthiness and well-being of affected individuals, including the bringing forward of diseases normally of late-onset and the occurrence of malformations. It may be 10 generations (300 years) before the full impact of genomic instability induced today is absolutely clear."
Genes without prominence: a reappraisal of the foundations of biologyArto Annila, Keith Baverstock
Interface, Royal Society Publishing, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2013.1017Published 19 February 2014
The sequencing of the human genome raises two intriguing questions: why has the prediction of the inheritance of common diseases from the presence of abnormal alleles proved so unrewarding in most cases and how can some 25 000 genes generate such a rich complexity evident in the human phenotype? It is proposed that light can be shed on these questions by viewing evolution and organisms as natural processes contingent on the second law of thermodynamics, equivalent to the principle of least action in its original form. Consequently, natural selection acts on variation in any mechanism that consumes energy from the environment rather than on genetic variation. According to this tenet cellular phenotype, represented by a minimum free energy attractor state comprising active gene products, has a causal role in giving rise, by a self-similar process of cell-to-cell interaction, to morphology and functionality in organisms, which, in turn, by a self-similar process entailing Darwin's proportional numbers are influencing their ecosystems. Thus, genes are merely a means of specifying polypeptides: those that serve free energy consumption in a given surroundings contribute to cellular phenotype as determined by the phenotype. In such natural processes, everything depends on everything else, and phenotypes are emergent properties of their systems.
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