Evolution theory

The “survival of the fittest” phenomenon is only part of the evolutionary equation.

Darwin’s theory of evolution should be expanded to include consideration of an “energy code” of DNA stability – so-called “molecular Darwinism” – to better account for long-term survival characteristics of species on Earth, according to Rutgers scientists.

The iconic genetic code can be thought of as an “energy code” that evolved by following the laws of thermodynamics (energy flow), causing it to evolve into an almost singular code for all living species, the study says. co-written by Rutgers. in the magazine Quarterly journals of biophysics.

“These revelations are significant because they provide entirely new ways to analyze the human genome and the genome of any living species, the blueprints of life,” said lead author Kenneth J. Breslauer, professor emeritus at the University. Linus C. Pauling in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. He is also affiliated with the Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Jersey. “The origins of the evolution of the genetic code of DNA and the evolution of all living species are rooted in the different energy profiles of their DNA molecular patterns. Under the influence of the laws of thermodynamics, this energy code evolved, from an astronomical number of alternative possibilities, into an almost singular code for all living species.”

Scientists have studied this so-called “universal enigma”, probing the origins of the startling observation that the genetic code evolved into an almost uniform pattern from billions of possibilities.

Scientists have expanded the foundations of the historical Darwinian evolutionary theory of “survival of the fittest” to include “molecular Darwinism”. Darwin’s revolutionary theory is based on the generational persistence of the physical characteristics of a species that allow it to survive in a given environment through “natural selection”. Molecular Darwinism refers to physical characteristics that persist across generations because the regions of molecular DNA that code for those traits are exceptionally stable.

Different regions of DNA can exhibit differential energy signatures that can promote physical structures in organisms that enable specific biological functions, Breslauer said.

Next steps include redesigning and mapping the chemical sequence of the human genome into an “energy genome”, so that regions of DNA with different energy stabilities can be correlated with physical structures and biological functions. This would allow better selection of DNA targets for molecular therapeutics.

Jens Völker, an associate research professor in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Rutgers-New Brunswick, is co-author of the study, along with first author Horst H. Klump of the University of Cape Town.

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