Evolutionary systems biology
TRÊS is currently strengthening its research activities at the interface of evolutionary biology and the molecular life sciences. As a start, we will investigate the evolution of gene- and protein-interaction networks. Understanding how such networks function is prerequisite to unlocking the wealth of molecular data that has become available.
The work in our group concentrates on bacteria, which are currently most amenable to an evolutionary systems biology approach. Using bacterial chemotaxis, natural competence, biofilm formation and metabolic switching between carbon sources as model systems, we ask how the complexity of biomolecular interactions influences the dynamics of evolutionary adaptation, and how it constrains or facilitates phenotypic diversification through either plasticity, bet-hedging or the establishment of genetic polymorphism. To answer these questions, we rely on theoretical modeling techniques from systems biology and traditional evolutionary theory, as well as on evolution experiments (in collaboration with the Molecular Genetics group).
A second research objective is to utilize evolutionary insights to develop new model-reduction strategies for systems biology. Preliminary results suggests that complex interaction networks can often be reduced to functionally equivalent simpler networks that are reachable by a series of nearly neutral evolutionary steps each involving only a local rewiring of the network (Figure 1). This observation is consistent with the idea that evolution typically first converges on a simple solution for a problem, which is subsequently refined by a process of tinkering.
|Last modified:||03 December 2015 1.04 p.m.|