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46

TL;DR: There is a dearth of actual experimental evidence. However: there is at least one study that confirmed the process ([STUDY #7] - Myxococcus xanthus; by Fiegna and Velicer, 2003). Another study experimentally confirmed higher extinction risk as well ([STUDY #8] - Paul F. Doherty's study of dimorphic bird species an [STUDY #9] - Denson K. McLain). ...


20

There is a recent paper that introduced the first molecular-level whole-cell simulation. Karr, J.R., Sanghvi, J.C., Macklin, D.N., Gutschow, M.V., Jacobs, J.M., Bolival, B., Assad-Garcia, N., Glass, J.I., & Covert, M.W. (2012). A whole-cell computational model predicts phenotype from genotype. Cell 150:389-401 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.05.044 The ...


12

Cat claws are growing all the time, like horse hooves, or human nails. However, cats and horses usually use their claws/hooves, so they get shortened through mechanical action. An indoor cat may need their claws trimmed if it doesn't use them enough (that's why cats will want to scratch everywhere), or if has supernumerary toes that don't normally touch the ...


12

The answer is chance or, even better, contingency. About your calculations, it is true that the theoretical sequences are almost unlimited, but the basic scaffolds are not. Very different sequences can fold into the same basic scaffold and have a similar reactivity/function. So, even if not all the sequences have been explored on this planet, most of the ...


9

Leonardo's already given you an excellent answer, but I thought I'd add my perspective. I'm a mathematical epidemiologist, so I'd at least like to believe these types of models are useful. For me, there are a number of things population dynamics models are especially useful for: Highlighting data requirements. Yes, models need data, as you've mentioned. ...


8

Two previous answers listed many applications of population dynamics models. I want to add that they are also important for conservation of endangered species. For example classical stage-class model (Crouse et al 1987, free copy) indicate that the most effective way to protect sea turtles is reducing mortality of large juveniles. Moreover, you don't have ...


8

When I think about your question of natural examples of XOR, it pushes me to think about what type of natural environments (i.e., evolutionary pressures) would lead to the selection of an XOR equivalent. When we implemented a synthetic XOR by "double flipping" one transcription terminator as a type of gene expression "check valve" it was the case that I ...


8

You raise two issues, both of which might be better suited for stats.SE, but I think the questions are suitably biological to warrant an answer here. Do most biological processes follow a Gaussian distribution? Unless you know from observation that a process doesn't follow a Gaussian distribution (e.g., Poisson, binomial, etc.), then it probably does at ...


8

kmm's answer is great and complete; I just want to add some of my points on what kind of data should follow Gaussian distribution. Unless you know from observation that a process doesn't follow a Gaussian distribution (e.g., Poisson, binomial, etc.), then it probably does at least well enough for statistical purposes. I won't fault kmm for this ...


7

The smallest unit that can be selected is, of course, the single nucleotide. The most striking examples of this are Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), many of which confer selective (dis)advantages. To take a simple example, imagine a SNP that introduces a frameshift mutation, rendering a gene incapable of producing its protein. If that protein is ...


7

Cancer cells can be and are used in cell culture. HeLa cells were the first human cell line to be grown in culture and they were derived from a cervical tumor. That being said, Cancer cell lines would not necessarily be used for stem cell work. They have sustained too many mutations to study the type of questions that stem cells are used to study, though as ...


6

The Karr et al. paper attempts to capture most of the details in their model by combining features from the genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome. This work heavily builds off of the coarse-grained models that you ask of especially on the work from Bernhard Palsson from which Markus Covert did his training. The answer to your question rests ...


6

That's an interesting conjecture about the total amount of genetic variation that is possible. I would modify a few things. First, since the size of genomes varies greatly among organisms (from 0.5 Mb to 15 Mb just for prokaryotes), there should be a fifth character in your set, representing the absence of a nucleotide. There are also issues of whether ...


6

Yes, we can say the number of species is limited as you conjecture. However, quick estimation shows that the limitation has no apparent usefulness: A reasonable estimate of the largest known genome is 150 GB (150,000,000,000 or 1.5e11 nucleobases). The limit would be 4 raised to that power. That limit is so high that it is too large for most calculators ...


6

You either want a introductory book in evolutionary biology or a book that offers mathematical models of evolutionary processes. In my first class of evolutionary biology I had this textbook: Futuyama, Evolution I think it gives a good start to the field and offers a good overview of the difference subfields. If you think you already know enough about the ...


6

This question is really asking for examples, and the list of ways that knowledge of physics can be used in biology could be very long. However, here are a couple of examples: Systems ecology, especially with regard to energy and nutrient flow. This type of ecology can be strongly influenced by physics. For one example see the book Theoretical Ecosystem ...


6

Is the standard Lotka-Volterra (LV) model an exact fit for insulin-glucose (IG) dynamics? No. Can a similar model built on the same principles capture most of the essential features of the IG dynamics? Absolutely. How to capture most of the insulin-glucose dynamics using a slightly modified Lotka-Volterra model We can figure out how to change the LV ...


6

Adding onto AMR's answer, cancer cell lines are used extensively for research. They are typically fast to grow. HeLa Long grow to capacity of a 10cm dish within about 48hours, depending how you split them. Now some lines are different than others and each have their pros/cons but the main thing behind them is they make it possible to view the effects of ...


6

The situation that you presented in which an entity A inhibits the production of another entity B which in turn inhibits A, is a positive feedback. In a network path or a loop the overall sign of the loop/path is the product of the signs of individual edges (interactions). In this case it is negative times negative which gives a positive sign to the loop. ...


5

There are a number of more recent papers dealing with phylogenetic methods in reconstructing language history as well, including work by Colin Renfrew and Quentin Atkinson. Here are two recent high-profile papers. Unfortunately, both are still behind paywalls, but even reading the list of papers they cite / that cite them would be a great way to answer your ...


5

The frequency fluctuations will be determined by a standard model of selection as found in any basic population genetics text. In this scenario they take a very basic form: during each long period $i$ the frequency of $A_1$ increases from $f_i$ to $f_i\cdot (1+s_1)^{n_1}$ and during each short period $j$ the frequency of $A_1$ decreases from $f_j$ to ...


5

Very little is known about the structure of fitness landscapes. H.A. Orr (2005; also Whitlock et al., 1995; Kryazhimskiy et al., 2009) explains that most experimental results do not actually attempt to measure the fitness landscape, but instead report just the average fitness versus time and average number of acquired adaptations versus time. This can't be ...


5

The chaotic behaviour you are referring to (at least the one described in your link in the comments) is a property of the discrete version of the logistic equation, where you get chaotic dynamics at growth rates above ~3.55 (see the logistic map). The behaviour of this equation has been described in a classic paper by Robert May (1976). As you increase ...


5

First of all, there is a very heated debate about this in the field of social evolution at present, and you aren't likely to get a conclusive answer. One theorist may give you one answer, but another will vehemently disagree. I'll start by logically answering your questions in reverse order! Question 2: Can you please provide an intuitive explanation of why ...


5

First of all, here is a program which simulates the evolution of the G-matrix over multiple generations, it's a few years old (they seem to have stopped developing it) and I've only played with it briefly. This could solve how to model the evolution of the G-matrix. Fisher's fundamental theorem is a great place to start off with the theory of this: The ...


5

These kind of equations (the Michaelis-Menten [MM] like term) denote saturation kinetics. The basic mechanistic assumption behind saturation kinetics is this: A rate (of lets say product formation) is dependent on the concentration of a molecule such that the rate increases linearly with increase in the concentration of the molecule. Example 1: Substrate ...


5

The question appears interesting and made me think but I might not fully understand it. Let me know if I am answering your question. Genetic algorithm vs simulation of evolutionary processes I think that the whole issue comes from a confusion between the concept of simulating evolutionary processes and the use of genetic algorithm (type of optimization ...


4

Relating to your last comment on random fluctuations in survival, a recent theoretical paper by Lee et al. 2011 studies the effect of mating systems on demographic stochasticity in small population. No empirical data there though. Their main conclusion is that polygyny (in relation with sex ratio) can lead to high demographic variance, therefore lowering ...



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