Epigenetics: Biology's Quantum Mechanics

Front Plant Sci. 2011 Apr 12;2:10. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2011.00010. eCollection 2011.


The perspective presented here is that modern genetics is at a similar stage of development as were early formulations of quantum mechanics theory in the 1920s and that in 2010 we are at the dawn of a new revolution in genetics that promises to enrich and deepen our understanding of the gene and the genome. The interrelationships and interdependence of two views of the gene - the molecular biological view and the epigenetic view - are explored, and it is argued that the classical molecular biological view is incomplete without incorporation of the epigenetic perspective and that in a sense the molecular biological view has been evolving to include the epigenetic view. Intriguingly, this evolution of the molecular view toward the broader and more inclusive epigenetic view of the gene has an intriguing, if not precise, parallel in the evolution of concepts of atomic physics from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics that are interesting to consider.

Keywords: aperiodic crystal; histone code; parachromatin; paragenetics; transgenerational inheritance.