Posted by: Dan | August 3, 2006

Evo and Devo of Multicellular Life

My weekly Pubcrawler search turned up an interesting computer and information science paper this week, in the journal Artificial LifeEvolution and development of a multicellular organism: scalability, resilience, and neutral complexification.

I’m having trouble accessing the full text, and I’d very much like to read it, because these are characteristics of biocomplexity that we could define a bit more thoroughly in explaining the molecular basis for evolution, I think. So, if anyone has the PDF for this paper (abstract below the fold), would you be so kind as to send it to me? Very intersting paper, that I’ll read thoroughly tonight, and comment more on tomorrow. At first glance, however, it seems to be a must-read for any and all “confused” laypersons out there who are daunted by the imense complexity of the metazoan cell, and evolution of said complexity.

I’m sure it’s the sort of thing that Hannah and other Cornell IDers will resolutely do their best to ignore…

To increase the evolvability of larger search spaces, several indirect encoding strategies have been proposed. Among these, multicellular developmental systems are believed to offer great potential for the evolution of general, scalable, and self-repairing organisms. We reinforce this view, presenting the results achieved by such a model and comparing it against direct encoding. Extra effort has been made to make this comparison both general and meaningful. Embryonal stages, a generic method showing increased evolvability and applicable to any developmental model, are introduced. Development with embryonal stages implements what we refer to as direct neutral complexification: direct genotype complexification by neutral duplication of expressed genes. The results show that, even for high-complexity evolutionary targets, the developmental model proves more scalable. The model also shows emergent self-repair, which is used to produce highly resilient organisms.


Responses

  1. That journal is listed under the Cornell Library e-journals, but issue 12(3) doesn’t seem to be available yet. So if you don’t obtain it through other methods, check the CUL gateway at a later date.

  2. Thanks – yeah, it’ll probably be available there in the next week or two, I’m just impatient I suppose. ;-)

  3. I can access a lot of stuff from my place of employment. Check your mailbox.

  4. Wow – that’s a rather longish and detailed paper, that’s a must-read for any and all “confused” laypersons out there who are daunted by the imense complexity of the metazoan cell, and evolution of said complexity.

    I’m sure it’s the sort of thing that Hannah and other IDers will resolutely do their best to ignore…

  5. I’m sure it’s the sort of thing that Hannah and other IDers will resolutely do their best to ignore…

    Either that, or they could claim that it is evidence for ID. That seems to be their latest strategy.

  6. “or they could claim that it is evidence for ID.”

    As in the “Front-loading” version of ID? That’d be interesting – but still, isn’t that what they always do, backpedal and claim that God “must’ve made it that way.” It’s dogma at its best, asserting a pre-determined view, no matter what evidence they’re presented with…

  7. Oh, like this, for instance.

  8. To my comments yesterday, where I said:

    At first glance, however, it seems to be a must-read for any and all “confused” laypersons out there who are daunted by the imense complexity of the metazoan cell, and evolution of said complexity.

    I’m sure it’s the sort of thing that Hannah and other Cornell IDers will resolutely do their best to ignore…

    Well, I think I shot my mouth off there a bit, to be honest, in claiming that this was a “must-read.” I should probably stick to recommending the confused out there to read Carroll’s Endless Forms Most Beautiful, or Kirschner’s Plausibility of Life or related books.

    It is an interesting paper though… focusing on ontogeny and artificial embryogeny, finding that matrix rewiring, cellular encoding, and neutral complexification (or weak linkage, exploratory behavior, and gene duplication, to use non-compsci terms) are sufficient for parsimonious pleiotropism. F&D focus on comparing the benefits of direct encoding (DE) and artificial embryogeny (AE) – which I take to be like comparing the central dogma of molecular biology following the modern evolutionary synthesis of the 1930’s with the more recent revolutions in evo-devo and epigenetics. The found that even for complex systems, AE facilitates greater robustness and scalability in generating variability, and indeed, evolvability, all from a compsci viewpoint of information processing.

    Despite creationists like Dembski, I do think that evolutionary biology does gain a tremendous boost from computational and information research such as this, in demonstrating and testing the basic rules that complex signaling networks in molecular biology could have reasonably evolved. That’s the powerful concept that I think provides the final answer to the new creationism.


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