The road to modularity

Nat Rev Genet. 2007 Dec;8(12):921-31. doi: 10.1038/nrg2267.


A network of interactions is called modular if it is subdivided into relatively autonomous, internally highly connected components. Modularity has emerged as a rallying point for research in developmental and evolutionary biology (and specifically evo-devo), as well as in molecular systems biology. Here we review the evidence for modularity and models about its origin. Although there is an emerging agreement that organisms have a modular organization, the main open problem is the question of whether modules arise through the action of natural selection or because of biased mutational mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Developmental Biology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Fossils
  • Gene Duplication
  • Genes
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population