Seminar: The major transitions of life from a network perspective

7 de June de 2017
Many attempts have been made to understand the origin of life and biological complexity both at the experimental and theoretical levels but neither is fully explained. Recently, it has been argued that the majority of the increase in complexity is not gradual, but it is associated with a few so called major transitions along the way of the evolution of life. For each major transition, specific mechanisms have been identified at the genetic level that could account for the change in complexity related to information transmission across generations. In this presentation, I will propose that the sudden and unexpected improvement in the functionality of an organism that followed a major transition was enabled by a phase transition in the network structure associated with that function. The increase in complexity following a major transition is therefore directly linked to the emergence of a novel structure-function relation which altered the course of evolution. As a consequence, emergent phenomena arising from these network phase transitions can serve as a common organizing principle for understanding the major transitions. As specific examples, I will analyze the emergence of life, the emergence of the genetic apparatus, the rise of the eukaryotic cells, the evolution of movement and mechanosensitivity and the emergence of consciousness. Finally, I will discuss the implications of network associated phase transitions to issues that bear relevance to the history, the immediate present and perhaps the future, of life.
Prof. Béla Suki
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Boston University

Auditório do Departamento de Física

Campus do Pici

Bloco 926

Date: 12/06/2017 – 16h