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Keywords:

  • adaptive evolution;
  • anti-fragility;
  • biodegradation;
  • central dogma;
  • dinitrotoluene;
  • metabolism-first;
  • pathogenesis

The standard representation of the Central Dogma (CD) of Molecular Biology conspicuously ignores metabolism. However, both the metabolites and the biochemical fluxes behind any biological phenomenon are encrypted in the DNA sequence. Metabolism constrains and even changes the information flow when the DNA-encoded instructions conflict with the homeostasis of the biochemical network. Inspection of adaptive virulence programs and emergence of xenobiotic-biodegradation pathways in environmental bacteria suggest that their main evolutionary drive is the expansion of their metabolic networks towards new chemical landscapes rather than perpetuation and spreading of their DNA sequences. Faulty enzymatic reactions on suboptimal substrates often produce reactive oxygen species (ROS), a process that fosters DNA diversification and ultimately couples catabolism of the new chemicals to growth. All this calls for a revision of the CD in which metabolism (rather than DNA) has the leading role.