… about a novel new theory in evolutionary biology, that is. A paper co-authored by a UC Berkeley professor of computer science and a Stanford professor of biology suggests that sexual reproduction isn’t about maximizing “fitness” so much as “mixability.”

“This idea of genetic mixability … hits on the difficulty evolutionary biologists have had in understanding sex,” writes ScienceDaily.

The difficulty is in part due to the idea that an “organism,” or “thing,” can end up as the cumulative result of many generations of gene-swapping and fitness-maximizing, only to fail to pass on many of its super-duper qualities to Generation N+1.

The solution, according to the paper, is not in trying to find the best combination of genes, but in trying to find genes that can be friends with everyone. Or at least friends with a lot of others. Let’s not get unrealistic here.

In terms of people, it’s sort of like being the friendly guy everyone can talk to and everyone knows as opposed to the douchy guy who’s always complaining of how hard his 18-unit schedule is. Thus is born the idea of mixability.

To extend the comparison a bit more, the paper found that asexual reproduction is much better for finding the “best” combination of genes, so that by the “douchy guy” analogy, one could infer … but we’ll leave that up to the reader.

As a consequence, it turns out that sexual reproduction is better on average, and so why you’re not likely to see cats exhibiting mitosis on a macroscopic scale. Crisis: averted?

Image Source: Lynn (Gracie’s mom) under Creative Commons
Flexibility Trumps Fitness In Sexual Reproduction, Says New Theory In Evolutionary Biology [ScienceDaily]



Comments:
adfadsf said:
Nov 25, 2008 at 10:51 pm

gahh1!!!! that picture is nice. i looked at the fliker link below- and wow. i really like it.