Epigenetics and evolutionary success

Nature News article: Epigenetics posited as important for evolutionary success

Excerpt: “Although biomedical researchers have been investigating the links between epigenetics and human health for some time, evolutionary biologists are just beginning to take up the subject. Richards, who helped to organize a special symposium on ecological epigenetics at a meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) in San Francisco this month, says that the field has the potential to revolutionize the study of evolutionary biology.”

SICB Annual Meeting 2013
January 3-7, 2013
San Francisco, CA

Symposium: Ecological Epigenetics

Excerpt: Epigenetics mechanisms – by which environmental signals mediate differences in gene expression – have the power to describe the emergence and selection of phenotypic variation on ecological timescales, and the reciprocal contribution of such variation to ecological processes. Because the conceptual and technical advances necessary to characterize epigenetic variation and processes in nature have just begun to emerge, now is a particularly opportune time to develop a framework that will guide and facilitate exceptional studies in Ecological Epigenetics.

My comment: The above translates well to what I conceptualized as nutrient chemical-dependent and pheromone-controlled epigenetic tweaking of the immense gene networks required for adaptive evolution via ecological, social, neurogenic, and socio-cognitive niche construction. Arguably, this model appears to go beyond the data and theory presented during the symposium (linked above): Human Pheromones: Epigenetic Effects of Odors and Their Affects on Behavior.  So does my published work from last year Human pheromones and food odors: epigenetic influences on the socioaffective nature of evolved behaviors.

Nevertheless, others seem destined to soon grasp the entirety of the genes-to-behavior and back approach exemplified in the honeybee model organism that links olfaction and odor receptors to a clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans.

 

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Author: James Kohl

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