Category: Research

Introductory Glimpses of Evolvability for Biologists

By Matthew Andres Moreno on October 20, 2017 in Research, Review / 0 Comments
Introductory Glimpses of Evolvability for Biologists

This is one of a series of posts on evolvability. It is based off my undergraduate thesis, which I wrote at the University of Puget Sound under advisors Dr. America Chambers and Dr. Adam Smith. The original thesis is available here. Introductory Glimpses of Evolvability for Biologists The idea that phenotypic outcomes of mutation are non-arbitrary can be unfamiliar, or even uncomfortable, to biologists [Kirschner and Gerhart, 2005, p 219]. It is consensus among evolutionary biologists that genetic mutation is random. The alternative — the theory of adaptive mutation — is controversial and widely discredited [Sniegowski and Lenski, 1995]. It is therefore essential to note that discussions of evolvability are not predicated on adaptive mutation. The key difference is that adaptive mutation hypothesizes that genetic mutation is non-arbitrary while discussions of evolvability center on the idea […]

Defining Evolvability

By Matthew Andres Moreno on October 13, 2017 in Research, Review / 0 Comments
Defining Evolvability

This is one of a series of posts on evolvability. It is based off my undergraduate thesis, which I wrote at the University of Puget Sound under advisors Dr. America Chambers and Dr. Adam Smith. The original thesis is available here. Defining Evolvability Figure 1 Some of my favorite biological phenotypes… biased towards cooperative photographic subjects! While biological phenotypic adaptation is indeed spectacular, another marvel of biology lurks just below our appreciation for phenotypes well-suited to their respective environments. It is hypothesized that biological organisms exhibit adaptation to the evolutionary process itself, not just to their environment over the course of their lifespans. That is, biological organisms are thought to possess traits that facilitate the evolutionary process. The term evolvability was coined to describe such traits. A general consensus exists in the literature that evolvability stems […]

Blog Series on Evolvability

By Matthew Andres Moreno on October 6, 2017 in Research, Review / 0 Comments

This is one of a series of posts on evolvability. It is based off my undergraduate thesis, which I wrote at the University of Puget Sound under advisors Dr. America Chambers and Dr. Adam Smith. The original thesis is available here. Blog Series on Evolvability I like digital evolution because it necessitates the examination of fundamental assumptions of what is necessary for evolution. Building a digital evolution system, a researcher must work out how the phenotypes that are being evolved should be genetically encoded. This decision raises an interesting question: how do genetic encodings for digital evolution systems influence the evolutionary process within these systems? I think this question is really interesting! Better understanding this question has practical implications for digital evolution, as well. So, I picked it up as the topic for my undergraduate thesis. […]

Mutation Bias as an Evolutionary Driver

By Matthew Rupp on December 15, 2015 in Research / 0 Comments
Mutation Bias as an Evolutionary Driver

If mutation is the ultimate source of genetic novelty, can a bias of mutation inflow alter the evolutionary trajectory of a population? On the surface, it would appear the answer should be yes. Intuitively, the path through genotype space should be influenced by the manner in which mutations are introduced into the population. For an easy to digest analogy, consider a rephrased thought experiment proposed by Stoltzfus and Yampolsky called “Climbing Mount Probable” [Stoltzfus, A., & Yampolsky, L. Y. (2009). Climbing mount probable: Mutation as a cause of nonrandomness in evolution. Journal of Heredity, 100(5), 637–647]. Beginning with the 80 year old fitness-landscape as a mountain analogy, we can envision a population of haploid organisms clustered about the face of a mountain with the organisms’ elevation representing their absolute fitnesses. Genetic novelty introduced through mutation during […]

Avida-ED for classroom research

By Mike Wiser on December 8, 2015 in Education, Research / 1 Comment
Avida-ED for classroom research

Laboratory components are often integral parts of both K-12 and college science courses. I certainly had a lot over the course of my science education; 5 courses with labs in high school, 8 in college. But for the overwhelming majority of them, I was essentially following a recipe and doing by rote things which had already been done and where the answers were already known. It was only in science-fair-style projects that I typically had any control over the questions I was asking, or how I would go about trying to answer them. But science education doesn’t have to be like that. Inquiry-based science practice is a growing part of the recommendations for science education1 2.  Thankfully, computational tools are making these practices more accessible. NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By […]