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Sun Nov 4, 2012, 08:00 AM

Far from random, evolution follows a predictable genetic pattern, researchers find

From Phys.org:

Evolution, often perceived as a series of random changes, might in fact be driven by a simple and repeated genetic solution to an environmental pressure that a broad range of species happen to share, according to new research.

Princeton University research published in the journal Science suggests that knowledge of a species' genes—and how certain external conditions affect the proteins encoded by those genes—could be used to determine a predictable evolutionary pattern driven by outside factors. Scientists could then pinpoint how the diversity of adaptations seen in the natural world developed even in distantly related animals.

"Is evolution predictable? To a surprising extent the answer is yes," said senior researcher Peter Andolfatto, an assistant professor in Princeton's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. He worked with lead author and postdoctoral research associate Ying Zhen, and graduate students Matthew Aardema and Molly Schumer, all from Princeton's ecology and evolutionary biology department, as well as Edgar Medina, a biological sciences graduate student at the University of the Andes in Colombia.

The researchers carried out a survey of DNA sequences from 29 distantly related insect species, the largest sample of organisms yet examined for a single evolutionary trait. Fourteen of these species have evolved a nearly identical characteristic due to one external influence—they feed on plants that produce cardenolides, a class of steroid-like cardiotoxins that are a natural defense for plants such as milkweed and dogbane.

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Reply Far from random, evolution follows a predictable genetic pattern, researchers find (Original post)
Jim__ Nov 2012 OP
TruthBeTold65 Nov 2012 #1
Jim__ Nov 2012 #2
TruthBeTold65 Nov 2012 #3

Response to Jim__ (Original post)

Tue Nov 13, 2012, 08:11 AM

1. sounds like being able to predict the butterfly effect

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Response to TruthBeTold65 (Reply #1)

Wed Nov 14, 2012, 04:50 AM

2. I'm not sure exactly how you mean that; but it doesn't seem like an appropriate analogy.

From wikipedia:

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions, where a small change at one place in a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences to a later state. The name of the effect, coined by Edward Lorenz, is derived from the theoretical example of a hurricane's formation being contingent on whether or not a distant butterfly had flapped its wings several weeks before.


Whereas the article (the Phys.org article - I haven't read the Science article) addresses a situation with well-defined initial conditions, the genome, and a limited number of viable adaptations to an environmental change:

"The power of what we've done is to survey diverse organisms facing a similar problem and find striking evidence for a limited number of possible solutions," he said. "The fact that many of these solutions are used over and over again by completely unrelated species suggests that the evolutionary path is repeatable and predictable."

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #2)

Mon Nov 26, 2012, 09:03 PM

3. haha...just caught this...

didn't spell out my thought on it clearly...the butterfly effect as outlier to my thought not meant as a definition...but thank you for the facts.

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