The modern versus extended evolutionary synthesis: Sketch of an intra-genomic gene's eye view for the evolutionary-genetic underpinning of epigenetic and developmental evolution

Alexis De Tiège, Stefaan Blancke, Johan Braeckman

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Abstract

Studying the phenotypic evolution of organisms in terms of populations of genes and genotypes, the Modern Synthesis (MS) conceptualizes biological evolution in terms of 'inter-organismal' interactions among genes sitting in the di erent individual organisms that constitute a population. It 'black-boxes' the complex 'intra-organismic' molecular and developmental epigenetics mediat- ing between genotypes and phenotypes. To conceptually integrate epigenetics and evo-devo into evolutionary theory, advocates of an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES) argue that the MS's reductive gene-centrism should be abandoned in favor of a more inclusive organism-centered ap- proach. To push the debate to a new level of understanding, we introduce the evolutionary biology of 'intra-genomic con ict' (IGC) to the controversy. This strategy is based on a twofold rationale. First, the eld of IGC is both ‘gene-centered’ and 'intra-organismic' and, as such, could build a bridge between the gene-centered MS and the intra-organismic elds of epigenetics and evo-devo. And second, it is increasingly revealed that IGC plays a signi cant causal role in epigenetic and developmental evolution and even in speciation. Hence, to deal with the ‘discrepancy’ between the ‘gene-centered’ MS and the ‘intra-organismic’ elds of epigenetics and evo-devo, we sketch a conceptual solution in terms of ‘intra-genomic con ict and compromise’ – an ‘intra-genomic gene’s eye view’ that thinks in terms of intra-genomic ‘evolutionarily stable strategies’ (ESSs) among numerous and various DNA regions and elements – to evolutionary-genetically under- write both epigenetic and developmental evolution, as such questioning the ‘gene-de-centered’ stance put forward by EES-advocates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
JournalLife Science Press
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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