EVOLUTION & EPIGENETICS
Evolution depends on variability and selection (and drift). According to the classic interpretation of the “Modern synthesis” between Mendel, Darwin and the principles of population genetics, the environment enforces selection, but doesn’t affect variability. However, numerous epigenetic mechanisms that enable the environment to affect heritable variations are now known. We are studying whether and how epigenetic information can establish transient and stable variations, and as a consequence alter the rates of evolutionary processes. Moreover, since epigenetic effects can in theory allow adaptive changes in progeny, in response to parental reactions to environmental challenges, epigenetic inheritance has the potential ability to direct evolution’s path. To study these questions we are performing lab evolution experiments in a number of different model organisms, and record evolutionary processes as they take place.
Artwork by Tamar Moshinsky, https://tamarmosh.com/.