Wednesday, December 05, 2007

A Simplistic Explanation of Evo-Devo

 
This is a one minute explanation of evo-devo by Chris Mims, Editor of Scientific American. According to Mims, evo-devo is the idea that there are regulatory genes making proteins that control the expression of other genes. Many species have homologous regulatory proteins.

Whaaaaa? If that's all there is to evo-devo then what the hell is all the fuss about?

PZ Myers seems to think it's pretty cool [Evo-devo in 60 seconds]. Apparently PZ even helped with the script [What Is Evo-Devo?]. Maybe PZ can explain why evo-devo is so important if this is all there is.


Maybe you can't read it in 60 seconds but I think the description of evolutionary-developmental biology on the Wikipedia site is far better than this video.

Of course no definition will excuse some of the nonsense that's being spouted in the name of evo-devo [Evo-Devo: Innovation and Robustness in Evolution].


7 comments :

  1. Yes, I was slightly underwhelmed too.

    Not on the subject of evo-devo, I think you'll like this paper Larry:

    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/0710150104v1

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  2. As I mentioned, it isn't really about evo-devo -- it's just a nice, simple analogy for what a "master gene" is, given in less than 60 seconds. It looks pedagogically useful.

    If you had to produce a 60-second summary of what biochemistry is, to be understood by non-scientists, would it then be fair to disparage the whole field of biochemistry for its triviality on the basis of your soundbite?

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  3. PZ Myers asks,

    If you had to produce a 60-second summary of what biochemistry is, to be understood by non-scientists, would it then be fair to disparage the whole field of biochemistry for its triviality on the basis of your soundbite?

    Yes it would be fair if I ended up with something that did not properly describe biochemistry.

    For example, I would not expect criticism if I described biochemistry as a field that studies how life works at the molecular level or the application of chemical principles to the study of biology.

    I would expect criticism if I described it as allosteric regulation of enzyme activity.

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  4. Agreed. It would have been better to tag it as an illustration of how transcription factors can confer versatility in patterns of gene expression. It's not very sound-bitey, though, and Mims exercise is all about generating a short snappy demonstration of a concept.

    Take it as it is. It's nto trying to be at all comprehensive.

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  5. Larry, you're as tough on evolutionists as you are the ID people. You're nothing if not fair!. The moral foundations test got that right at least.

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  6. ...and oh yes I notice that loyalty is fairly low!

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  7. ... good trait if you're looking for independence of mind I suppose!

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