The evolutionary origin of form and function

J Physiol. 2014 Jun 1;592(11):2261-5. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2014.271775.


We regard the basic unit of the organism, the cell, as a complex dissipative natural process functioning under the second law of thermodynamics and the principle of least action. Organisms are conglomerates of information bearing cells that optimise the efficiency of energy (nutrient) extraction from its ecosystem. Dissipative processes, such as peptide folding and protein interaction, yield phenotypic information from which form and function emerge from cell to cell interactions within the organism. Organisms, in Darwin's 'proportional numbers', in turn interact to minimise the free energy of their ecosystems. Genetic variation plays no role in this holistic conceptualisation of the life process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation