About this Research Topic
Conventionally, evolution is thought of in Darwinian metaphoric terms, such as natural selection and descent with modification. Those concepts are based on how phylogenetic changes in structure and function appear, not on how they actually occurred- that can be determined by looking at the cellular-molecular mechanisms involved in development and phylogeny, representing the ‘history’ of the organism. In the era of evidence-based medicine, if we are going to practice Evolutionary Medicine, evolution theory and practice must be based on mechanistically testable and refutable evidence. Using this approach, we have been able to determine how and why the lung evolved from unicellular organisms (Torday JS and Rehan VK, Evolutionary Biology, Cell-Cell Communication and Complex Disease. Wiley, 2012; Torday JS. Evolutionary Biology Redux. Perspect Biol Med 2013 Autumn;56(4):455-84; Torday JS. The Central Theory of Biology. Med Hypotheses 2015 Jul;85(1):49-57). The same approach can be taken to understand the evolution of all of complex metazoan physiology (Torday JS, Rehan VK. Lung evolution as a cipher for physiology. Physiol Genomics. 2009 Jun 10;38(1):1-6) starting from the cell membrane of unicellular eukaryotes inheriting cholesterol, which promoted metabolism, respiration and locomotion, the fundamental physiologic properties of vertebrate evolution.
Evolutionary novelties are said to be ‘emergent and contingent’, having been derived from pre-existing exapted physiologic properties that ultimately refer all the way back in history to the origins of metazoans in the unicellular state. Over the course of the life cycle the organism acquires epigenetic marks that are incorporated into the germ cells. During meiosis and embryogenesis epigenetic marks are functionally integrated or silenced based upon homeostatic principles. Such marks alter the structure and function of the organism in adaptation to an ever-changing environment- what Francois Jacob referred to as ‘tinkering’ without offering a mechanism by which to test this idea.
This Research Topic of Frontiers in Neonatology, The impact of evolution science on neonatology, is dedicated to promoting the idea that physiology can be understood based on First Principles, providing a logic for the practice of medicine.
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