In “Q & A (with) Tomoko Ohta” (Current Biology,, Volume 22, Issue 16, R618-R619, 21 August 2012), famed Japanese geneticist Ohta, proponent of “nearly neutral” evolution, offers her views on today’s Darwinism:
The current orthodox theory in evolution is Neo-Darwinism, which is based on Mendelian genetics. However, recent progress in developmental biology, and especially in uncovering epigenetic mechanisms, tells us that Mendelian genetics is not enough for describing certain phenomena of inheritance. Also, genomics is expanding rapidly such that analyses at the genomic level are needed for understanding evolutionary processes. My ambition is to combine these new findings with the nearly neutral theory in which the interplay of drift and weak selection is thought to be most important.
What do you think are the big questions in your field?
If you look at systems biology papers, you are struck by extreme complexities of various interaction systems. To me, the biggest question is how such complex systems could have evolved? Once, a Japanese immunologist, Dr Tomio Tada, called the immune system an “immune super-system”. It now seems that super-systems exist at so many levels in the biological world. Shifting and modification of these systems are essential for their evolution and variation. (Paywall)
Michael Behe on the theory of constructive neutral evolution
This year’s wishful thinking?: “Constructive neutral evolution” can create complex processes like splicing and RNA editing …