[Taxacom] "molecular" natural selection

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Sat Feb 14 14:18:14 CST 2009

It's possible that Darwin would have seen things that way. After all,
Darwin proposed "laws of growth" where he could not explain the origin
of form by natural selection. I think Dover argues that Darwin would
have accepted molecular drive. What is different is that "natural
selection" has been posed as an environmental mechanism that produces
and evolutionary change through differential fitness. Molecular drive
provides another mechanism whereby a shift in gene frequencies may occur
without requiring the differential fitness. Before molecular information
Darwinians denounces proposals for mechanisms that did not require
natural selection, despite the fact that Darwin was open to the idea.
They were so hostile that they slandered one of the main non-selection
models (orthogenesis) as teleological - perhaps one of the worst
revisionist histories created by leading Darwinians.

John Grehan

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Kenneth Kinman
Sent: Saturday, February 14, 2009 10:22 AM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] "molecular" natural selection

Dear All,
      I guess what is bothering me about discussions of various types of
molecular drive (like biased gene conversion) and genetic drift is the
tendency to refer to them as separate from "natural selection".  Sure,
they are different from the phenotypic natural selection discussed by
Darwin (he had no molecular data that needed explaining).  However, I
think Darwin today would see "molecular natural selection" as just part
of an expanded view of natural selection (with the phenotypic and
genotypic processes not always acting in concert).                 
      You might argue that this is semantic quibbling, but it goes
beyond how I think Darwin might have viewed it.  One should also
consider how such sematics can be used against evolution in general, by
those who still ridicule Darwin as having come up with a "fairytale for
grownups".  This is perhaps an even better reason to define natural
selection more broadly (as I think Darwin would probably do today) to
include genotypic processes, not just the phenotypic ones.   
          ---------Ken Kinman


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