How genomic and developmental dynamics affect evolutionary processes

Bioessays. 2000 Dec;22(12):1153-9. doi: 10.1002/1521-1878(200012)22:12<1153::AID-BIES13>3.0.CO;2-0.


Evolutionary genetics is concerned with natural selection and neutral drift, to the virtual exclusion of almost everything else. In its current focus on DNA variation, it reduces phenotypes to symbols. Varying phenotypes, however, are the units of evolution, and, if we want a comprehensive theory of evolution, we need to consider both the internal and external evolutionary forces that shape the development of phenotypes. Genetic systems are redundant, modular and subject to a variety of genomic mechanisms of "turnover" (transposition, gene conversion, unequal crossingover, slippage and so on). As such the construction and spread of novel combinations of modules by turnover, in particular within gene promoters, contributes significantly to the evolution of phenotypes. Furthermore, redundancy, turnover and modularity lead to ever more complex networks of genetic interactions and ever more functions for a given module. The significant interaction between genomic turnover and natural selection leads to a molecular coevolution between interacting modules and hence facilitates the establishment of biological novelties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • DNA / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Phenotype


  • DNA