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The Dynamic GenomeA Darwinian Approach$
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Antonio Fontdevila

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541379

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541379.001.0001

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Reconstructing Darwinism: from Darwin to the genome via the Modern Synthesis

Reconstructing Darwinism: from Darwin to the genome via the Modern Synthesis

(p.151) Chapter 5 Reconstructing Darwinism: from Darwin to the genome via the Modern Synthesis
The Dynamic Genome

Antonio Fontdevila

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the traditional objections to the Modern Synthesis to decide whether the genome perusal forces us to update (or change) this synthesis. After a journey from Darwin's ideas to the Modern Synthesis, the origin of genetic variability and its gradual crafting by natural selection are analysed under the present knowledge. Several functional analyses, ranging from bacteria to vertebrates, are described to discover that highly integrated systems can evolve stepwise, validating Darwinian gradualism. Phenotypic plasticity, a missing point in the Modern Synthesis, is also discussed from the pioneer works of genetic assimilation till the molecular buffering systems that, like heat shock proteins, encrypt lots of variability ready to be assimilated. It is concluded that genome studies favour the reconstruction of Darwinism rather than its deconstruction. The ‘finale’ launches natural selection like a tinkerer amidst all the ‘music of the biosphere’ as the only way to understand evolution.

Keywords:   Modern Synthesis, gradualism, phenotypic plasticity, genetic assimilation, Darwinism, natural selection

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