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Publication Summary and Abstract

Wilson, S. P., James, S. S., Whiteley, D. J., and Krubitzer, L. A. (2019), Limit cycle dynamics can guide the evolution of gene regulatory networks towards point attractors, Scientific Reports, 9, 16750.

Developmental dynamics in Boolean models of gene networks self-organize, either into point attractors (stable repeating patterns of gene expression) or limit cycles (stable repeating sequences of patterns), depending on the network interactions specified by a genome of evolvable bits. Genome specifications for dynamics that can map specific gene expression patterns in early development onto specific point attractor patterns in later development are essentially impossible to discover by chance mutation alone, even for small networks. We show that selection for approximate mappings, dynamically maintained in the states comprising limit cycles, can accelerate evolution by at least an order of magnitude. These results suggest that self-organizing dynamics that occur within lifetimes can, in principle, guide natural selection across lifetimes.
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