James A. Shapiro proposes an important new paradigm for understanding biological evolution, the core organizing principle of biology. Shapiro introduces crucial new molecular evidence that tests the conventional scientific view of evolution based on the neo-Darwinian synthesis, shows why this view is inadequate to today's evidence, and presents a compelling alternative view of the evolutionary process that reflects the shift in life sciences towards a more information- and systems-based approach in Evolution: A View from the 21st Century.
Shapiro integrates advances in symbiogenesis, epigenetics, and saltationism into a unified approach that views evolutionary change as an active cell process, regulated epigenetically and capable of making rapid large changes by horizontal DNA transfer, inter-specific hybridization, whole genome doubling, symbiogenesis, or massive genome restructuring. Evolution marshals extensive evidence in support of a fundamental reinterpretation of evolutionary processes, including more than 1,100 references to the scientific literature. Shapiro's work will generate extensive discussion throughout the biological community, and may significantly change your own thinking about how life has evolved. It also has major implications for evolutionary computation, information science, and the growing synthesis of the physical and biological sciences.
About the Author xv
A Note on Reading This Book for Individuals with Different Backgrounds xvii
Introduction: Taking a Fresh Look at the Basics of Evolution in the New Century 1
Part I: Sensing, Signaling, and Decision-Making in Cell Reproduction 7
Part II: The Genome as a Read-Write (RW) Storage System 27
Part III: Evolutionary Lessons from Molecular Genetics and Genome Sequencing 89
Part IV: A New Conceptual Basis for Evolutionary Research in the 21st Century 127
James A. Shapiro, Professor in the University of Chicago's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, is a leading bacterial geneticist, the discoverer of transposable elements in bacteria, and the key researcher involved in first organizing the field of mobile genetic elements. The earliest proponent of "natural genetic engineering" as a basic feature of evolution, he has been a leading scientific critic of orthodox evolutionary theory for 20 years. Shapiro is co-editor of DNA Insertion Elements, Episomes, and Plasmids (1977, Cold Spring Harbor Press), editor of Mobile Genetic Elements (1983, Academic Press), and co-editor of Bacteria as Multicellular Organisms (1997, Oxford University Press). He holds a Ph.D. in genetics from Cambridge University.