The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution

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FT Press, Jun 23, 2011 - Science - 528 pages

The Logic of Chance offers a reappraisal and a new synthesis of theories, concepts, and hypotheses on the key aspects of the evolution of life on earth in light of comparative genomics and systems biology. The author presents many specific examples from systems and comparative genomic analysis to begin to build a new, much more detailed, complex, and realistic picture of evolution. The book examines a broad range of topics in evolutionary biology including the inadequacy of natural selection and adaptation as the only or even the main mode of evolution; the key role of horizontal gene transfer in evolution and the consequent overhaul of the Tree of Life concept; the central, underappreciated evolutionary importance of viruses; the origin of eukaryotes as a result of endosymbiosis; the concomitant origin of cells and viruses on the primordial earth; universal dependences between genomic and molecular-phenomic variables; and the evolving landscape of constraints that shape the evolution of genomes and molecular phenomes.

"Koonin's account of viral and pre-eukaryotic evolution is undoubtedly up-to-date. His "mega views" of evolution (given what was said above) and his cosmological musings, on the other hand, are interesting reading." Summing Up: Recommended

Reprinted with permission from CHOICE, copyright by the American Library Association.


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The fundamentals of evolution Darwin and Modern Synthesis
From Modern Synthesis to evolutionary genomics Multiple processes and patterns of evolution
Comparative genomics Evolving genomescapes
Genomics systems biology and universals of evolution Genome evolution as a phenomenon of statistical physics
The web genomics of the prokaryotic world Vertical and horizontal flows of genes the mobilome and the dynamic pangenomes
The phylogenetic forest and the quest for the elusive Tree of Life in the age of genomics
The origins of eukaryotes Endosymbiosis the strange story of introns and the ultimate importance of unique events in evolution
The nonadaptive null hypothesis of genome evolution and origins of biological complexity
Origin of life The emergence of translation replication metabolism and membranesthe biological geochemical and cosmological perspectives
The postmodern state of evolutionary biology
Postmodernist philosophy metanarratives and the nature and goals of the scientific endeavor
Evolution of the cosmos and life Eternal inflation many worlds in one anthropic selection and a rough estimate of the probability of the origin of life
About the author

The Darwinian Lamarckian and Wrightean modalities of evolution robustness evolvability and the creative role of noise in evolution
The Virus World and its evolution
The Last Universal Common Ancestor the origin of cells and the primordial gene pool

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About the author (2011)

Eugene V. Koonin is a Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health), as well as the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Biology Direct. Dr. Koonin’s group performs research in many areas of evolutionary genomics, with a special emphasis on whole-genome approaches to the study of major transitions in life’s evolution, such as the origin of eukaryotes, the evolution of eukaryotic gene structure, the origin and evolution of different classes of viruses, and evolutionary systems biology. Dr. Koonin is the author of more than 600 scientific articles and a previous book Sequence--Evolution--Function: Computational Approaches in Comparative Genomics (with Michael Galperin [2002] New York: Springer).

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