Werner Arber

Molecular Mechanism of Biological Evolution

Monday, 27 June 2005
15:00 - 17:00 hrs CEST


According to the Neodarwinian Theory the biological evolution is driven by the occasional generation of genetic variations. Molecular genetic methodology and genomics enable us today to investigate the molecular processes that generate genetic variants. These mutants display alterations in their inherited genome sequences. While many different individual mechanisms contribute to the overall mutagenesis, these mechanisms can be classified into three qualitatively distinct natural strategies of generating genetic variants:

(1) local sequence changes,

(2) intragenomic rearrangements of DNA segments, and

(3) acquisition of foreign DNA segments by horizontal gene transfer.

In these processes the products of socalled evolution genes are specifically involved together with various non-genetic elements. Products of evolution genes act as variation generators and/or as modulators of the frequencies of genetic variation. Specific examples will be discussed.

The Theory of Molecular Evolution is based on the available experimental data on genetic variation and implies a duality of the genome which carries, besides the genes acting for the benefit of the individual life, also a number of genes acting for the benefit of the biological evolution of the population. This means that nature takes actively care of biological evolution and thus for biodiversity. The relevance of this concept of our world view will be discussed.

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