Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

The Evolution of Evolution

Evolution is innovative, says the New Scientist's Dan Jones. But can evolution itself evolve? "The capacity for evolutionary innovation — or, in buzzword form, 'evolvability' — is built into the fabric of life," he writes. There are many studies lately that shed light on the factors needed to enhance or restrict an organism's evolvability, but the key is to clearly define the word. When researchers talk about evolvability, Jones says, they don't just mean any genetic variation, but variation that means something to an organism's ability to adapt to its environment and that can be passed down to subsequent generations. How robust an organism is — and how well it develops despite genetic mutations — and how well evolving traits are integrated with each other determine an organism's capacity for evolvability, Jones says. The study of evolvability has only just begun, he adds. "A complete theory of integration, modularity and the developmental basis of evolvability will require connecting genetics and developmental biology with morphological studies in both experimental and natural settings," Jones writes.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.