Thursday, 05 December 2013 at 10:40 am

I came across this pop science article yesterday:

http://aeon.co/magazine/nature-and-cosmos/why-its-time-to-lay-the-selfish-gene-to-rest/

The author argues that a gene-centric perspective of evolution, made popular by Dawkins with "The Selfish Gene", is not correct and we should focus our attention on other mechanisms such as gene expression. 

The fallacy with his argument stems from a misunderstanding of what Dawkins was trying to present. The selfish gene can basically be boiled down to: "The most basic unit of heredity is a gene".

This idea is only gene-centric in the sense that we think it is the most fundamental unit of heredity. Biologists understand there are many many layers of complexity (including gene expression) above genes that ultimately contributes to the phenotype. There are plenty of research done at the level of gene expression networks, protein translation, protein folding, cell organization, tissue engineering...etc.

A more valid arguement against "The Selfish Gene" is the use of the term "gene". The definition of a gene is becoming more murky than ever (here is a great paper on this: http://genome.cshlp.org/content/23/12/1961.full?rss=1). The most basic unit of heredity perhaps should be any genomic feature that contributes to the phenotype? Whatever that may be.








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