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Date:12/10/2010

The December issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology is now available. The issue features articles on the nature of individual organisms, evolution observed in the lab, play behavior across animal species, and a criticism of intelligent design creationism. Abstracts are available at http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/qrb/current.


What is an Individual?

For organisms like fish, mice, and people, it's not hard to distinguish between individuals. However, for colonial creatures like corals and anemones, and for organisms like slime molds and bacteria, the line separating individual and group is blurred. According to Henri J. Folse III and Joan Roughgarden of Stanford University, the traditional method of defining an individual organism"one genome in one body"should be discarded. Instead, they propose defining individuals from an evolutionary perspective. In their view, the hallmarks of an individual organism are that its component parts have aligned evolutionary fitness interests; that its parts exhibit division of labor between reproductive and non-reproductive tasks; and that its parts form a functional adaptive organization. Under this rubric, a colony of eusocial insects such as honeybees would qualify as an individual organism, despite genetic differences within the colony. Most colonies of modular organisms such as corals would not qualify despite genetic similarity within the colony.

Henri J. Folse III and Joan Roughgarden, "What is an Individual Organism? A Multilevel Selection Perspective"


Experimental Evolution: Losing Function is Often a Good Thing

For 40 years, scientists have used quickly reproducing bacteria and viruses to watch evolution in action in the laboratory. During that time, scientists have reported numerous genetic mutations that increase the evolutionary fitness of these experiment
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Contact: Kevin Stacey
kstacey@press.uchicago.edu
773-834-0386
University of Chicago Press Journals
Source:Eurekalert

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