Changing times in biology: the promise of developing a unified theory

posted Sep 16, 2015, 2:41 AM by Vinod Scaria   [ updated Sep 17, 2015, 3:10 AM by SRamachandran Igib ]
Abhay Sharma, Scientist, CSIR-IGIB.....

It is an interesting time in biology. New discoveries about non-genetic inheritance is calling for integration of physiology, epigenetics, molecular biology, and genomic networks in the evolutionary theory so much so that Lamarck and Darwin must be turning over in their graves. We reported first evidence of transgenerational spermatogenic inheritance of induced traits, attempted to integrate diverse findings relevant in non-genetic transmission leading to synthesis of a new concept "evolutionary transgenerational systems biology" later recast as unified theory of biology.

Three emerging cardinal principles are: (i) heritable information is communicated from somatic cells to the germline by RNA present in physiological fluids and released in the circulation, (ii) factors like RNA, DNA methylation and histone modifications are transmitted across generations via gene expression and networks, and (iii) inherited epigenetic variations in the form of methylated DNA are fixed in the population as genetic mutations in the course of evolution. The findings may prove valuable in catalyzing future efforts for developing a unified theory of biology.

Sharma A. Systems genomics analysis centered on epigenetic inheritance supports development of a unified theory of biology. J. Exp. Biol. (in press).