evolution, evolution...

James P. H. Fuller jim at crom2.rn.com
Sat Nov 9 13:55:38 EST 1991


taub at hmivax.humgen.upenn.edu (Frank Yue) writes:

> Do you think so?   Maybe.  Does that mean that the definition and concept of 
> evolution will change when we discover a non-genetic living system?  :-) I 
> know none exists that we know of, but we *will* find one.


robison at ribo.harvard.edu (Keith Robison) replies:

>	A non-genetic living system?  If we define genetics as the inheritance
> of information from progenitors which can be transmitted to offspring, then
> how could you have anything that fits anyone's idea of living without having
> it engage in genetics?  Or that it could evolve by any mechanism?


     If you define genetics thus broadly it's certainly hard to imagine a
non-genetic life form.  But in real life one specific genetic mechanism
(DNA -> RNA -> protein) is so central to modern molecular genetics that it
has come to be *identified* with molecular genetics, and is in fact widely
referred to as the Central Dogma.  I'm sure Frank Yue is merely asking what
will happen to our concept of evolution when/if we find a living system (not,
presumably, on Earth) that does pass information to offspring but doesn't
conform to the Central Dogma.

         
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