The dynamic interactions between cellular-molecular physiology and the environment - the cellular-molecular approach to evolution as niche construction

Published on June 30, 2016   16 min

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Other Talks in the Series: Evolutionary Physiology

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My name is John Torday. This is the 24th lecture in a series on evolutionary physiology and titled The Cellular-Molecular Approach to Evolution as Niche Construction.
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Niche construction is the process by which an organism alters its own or other species' environments, often but not always in a manner that increases its chances of survival. This is an extrapolation of the cellular molecular mechanism of evolution, the cell being the original niche construction. As such, it offers an opportunity to broaden both approaches to evolution by effectively merging the concept of the cell as the ultimate niche with ecological concepts of the niche. Recognition of the continuum from unicellular life to ecological adaptation is of fundamental importance in understanding the functional unity of biology as a mechanism for the maintenance and perpetuation of life through evolution, based on unicellular first principles.
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Darwin had somewhat of a fascination with earthworms, which were a prime example of niche construction theory because they generate their own physical soil environment while digging in the dirt. The paper cited in this slide shows that DNA methylation determines C. elegans longevity, for example, as indicated experimentally by manipulating one of the methylation genes.
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The dynamic interactions between cellular-molecular physiology and the environment - the cellular-molecular approach to evolution as niche construction

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