Insights & Perspectives
Does constructive neutral evolution play an important role in the origin of cellular complexity?
Making sense of the origins and uses of biological complexity
Article first published online: 7 MAR 2011
Copyright © 2011 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 33, Issue 5, pages 344–349, May 2011
How to Cite
Speijer, D. (2011), Does constructive neutral evolution play an important role in the origin of cellular complexity?. Bioessays, 33: 344–349. doi: 10.1002/bies.201100010
- Issue published online: 18 APR 2011
- Article first published online: 7 MAR 2011
- constructive neutral evolution;
- eukaryotic evolution;
- irremediable complexity;
- RNA editing;
Recently, constructive neutral evolution has been touted as an important concept for the understanding of the emergence of cellular complexity. It has been invoked to help explain the development and retention of, amongst others, RNA splicing, RNA editing and ribosomal and mitochondrial respiratory chain complexity. The theory originated as a welcome explanation of isolated small scale cellular idiosyncrasies and as a reaction to ‘overselectionism’. Here I contend, that in its extended form, it has major conceptual problems, can not explain observed patterns of complex processes, is too easily dismissive of alternative selectionist models, underestimates the creative force of complexity as such, and – if seen as a major evolutionary mechanism for all organisms – could stifle further thought regarding the evolution of highly complex biological processes.