A New Take on John Maynard Smith's Concept of Protein Space for Understanding Molecular Evolution
Ogbunugafor, C. Brandon
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CitationOgbunugafor, C. Brandon, and Daniel L. Hartl. 2016. “A New Take on John Maynard Smith's Concept of Protein Space for Understanding Molecular Evolution.” PLoS Computational Biology 12 (10): e1005046. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005046. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005046.
AbstractMuch of the public lacks a proper understanding of Darwinian evolution, a problem that can be addressed with new learning and teaching approaches to be implemented both inside the classroom and in less formal settings. Few analogies have been as successful in communicating the basics of molecular evolution as John Maynard Smith’s protein space analogy (1970), in which he compared protein evolution to the transition between the terms WORD and GENE, changing one letter at a time to yield a different, meaningful word (in his example, the preferred path was WORD → WORE → GORE → GONE → GENE). Using freely available computer science tools (Google Books Ngram Viewer), we offer an update to Maynard Smith’s analogy and explain how it might be developed into an exploratory and pedagogical device for understanding the basics of molecular evolution and, more specifically, the adaptive landscape concept. We explain how the device works through several examples and provide resources that might facilitate its use in multiple settings, ranging from public engagement activities to formal instruction in evolution, population genetics, and computational biology.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:29626202