Molecular taxonomy: on way out?

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Mon Jul 18 09:33:33 CDT 2005

Richard Pyle wrote:

> The question to ask as a champion of morphological taxonomy is: "Is there
> any information useful for inferring evolutionary relationships that can be
> interpreted from morphology that is not, somewhere, somehow, also
> represented in the genome?"

I guess the question is, does the interaction of genome with environment yield
any emergent properties that cannot be directly inferred from knowledge of the
genome itself.  I suggest it does.  I am not of the reductionist school who
believe (as some physicists have suggested) that if we know the fundamental
properties of the constituent "particles" that comprise the material
manifestations of our world, then we can know everything about how our world

Of course, Rich's expression, "somewhere, somehow", covers virtually everything.
Perhaps if we did know *everything* about each component of the genome, about
all the interactions of these components with each other, and about all
permutations of these interactions with environmental variation, from beginning
to end, it may be that all morphology is predictable from the genome.

Dick J.
Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at
Notre Dame, IN 46556    |

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