Evolutionary Dynamics and Information Hierarchies in Biological Systems
February 2014, Wiley-Blackwell
Evolutionary Dynamics and Information Hierarchies in Biological Systems: Aspen Center for Physics Workshop. Organisms use a variety of mechanisms to store, interpret, and use information that is organized in a large and complex hierarchy from DNA sequences, to chromatin regulation, to intra/extracellular signaling, to tissue/organ organization, to the interactions between organisms and species. This Annals volume presents individual papers and a summarizing meeting report stemming from a workshop at the Aspen Center for Physics in Aspen, Colorado, organized to discuss these issues. The three themed weeks of the workshop focused on the organization of DNA into chromatin, epigenetic adaptation and host/pathogen interaction, and macroevolution. Although these areas represent a wide breadth of biological phenomena, several unifying themes emerged through workshop discussions. In particular, the differences between the simplicity of our theoretical models and the complex interactions characteristic of real physical systems were repeatedly highlighted. Workshop discussions therefore pointed to key areas where theory and observations should aim to converge as we refine our understanding of evolution.