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In the Light of Evolution

New Content ItemGuest Editors: Brian Charlesworth, Jonathan Howard, Laurence Hurst, Philip Ingham, Alexander Johnson, Marc Kirschner, Eugene Koonin, Sean Munro.

In his 1973 essay, Theodosius Dobzhansky argues that a meaningful picture can be drawn from “a pile of sundry facts” in biology only by looking at them in “the light of evolution”. In a post-genomics era of large-scale data, technological advances and integrative approaches have the potential to expand the range of this perspective. 
In this cross journal series, BMC Biology, BMC Evolutionary Biology and Biology Direct  bring together a collection of articles exploring how evolutionary principles applied across the spectrum of biology can shed light on a diverse range of topics from molecules to ecosystems, and with a particular emphasis on human genetics, interactions with the environment, and health and disease. Selected research articles will be included in addition to invited reviews and comment. 

We will consider Research manuscripts of exceptional interest on the following topics:
•    Evolution of morphological change 
•    Understanding and treating disease in the light of evolution
•    Origins of evolutionary complexity
•    Human evolutionary biology in a post-genomic era
•    Anthropogenic effects on evolution
•    Evolutionary insights into genome variation, and vice versa
•    Host-parasite interactions
•    Evolutionary lessons from large-scale genomics
•    Insights from ancient DNA on human origins
•    Molecular mechanisms of evolution
•    Applied microbial evolution 
•    Evolutionary ecology
•    Genomics and the evolution of development

Papers in our Registered Reports format will also be welcomed.

Submit your manuscript here

Please use the online submission system, and indicate in your covering letter that you would like the manuscript to be considered for the “In the Light of Evolution” series.

  1. The volvocine algae, which include the single-celled species Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and the colonial species Volvox carteri, serve as a model in which to study the evolution of multicellularity and cellular di...

    Authors: Charles Ross Lindsey, Frank Rosenzweig and Matthew D. Herron
    Citation: BMC Biology 2021 19:182
  2. The supergroup Euglenozoa unites heterotrophic flagellates from three major clades, kinetoplastids, diplonemids, and euglenids, each of which exhibits extremely divergent mitochondrial characteristics. Mitocho...

    Authors: Kristína Záhonová, Gordon Lax, Savar D. Sinha, Guy Leonard, Thomas A. Richards, Julius Lukeš and Jeremy G. Wideman
    Citation: BMC Biology 2021 19:103
  3. The Euglenozoa are a protist group with an especially rich history of evolutionary diversity. They include diplonemids, representing arguably the most species-rich clade of marine planktonic eukaryotes; trypan...

    Authors: Anzhelika Butenko, Fred R. Opperdoes, Olga Flegontova, Aleš Horák, Vladimír Hampl, Patrick Keeling, Ryan M. R. Gawryluk, Denis Tikhonenkov, Pavel Flegontov and Julius Lukeš
    Citation: BMC Biology 2020 18:23
  4. Sex chromosome evolution is a dynamic process that can proceed at varying rates across lineages. For example, different chromosomes can be sex-linked between closely related species, whereas other sex chromoso...

    Authors: Richard P. Meisel, Pablo J. Delclos and Judith R. Wexler
    Citation: BMC Biology 2019 17:100
  5. Photosynthetic euglenids are major contributors to fresh water ecosystems. Euglena gracilis in particular has noted metabolic flexibility, reflected by an ability to thrive in a range of harsh environments. E. gr...

    Authors: ThankGod E. Ebenezer, Martin Zoltner, Alana Burrell, Anna Nenarokova, Anna M. G. Novák Vanclová, Binod Prasad, Petr Soukal, Carlos Santana-Molina, Ellis O’Neill, Nerissa N. Nankissoor, Nithya Vadakedath, Viktor Daiker, Samson Obado, Sara Silva-Pereira, Andrew P. Jackson, Damien P. Devos…
    Citation: BMC Biology 2019 17:11
  6. Increases in biological complexity and the origins of life’s hierarchical organization are described by the “major transitions” framework. A crucial component of this paradigm is that after the transition in c...

    Authors: Matthew D. Herron, Seyed A. Zamani-Dahaj and William C. Ratcliff
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:145
  7. The capture and enslavement of eukaryotic algae by unicellular predators to acquire photosynthesis was a major driving force in early eukaryotic diversification. A genome presented in BMC Biology provides a glimp...

    Authors: Geoffrey Ian McFadden
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:140

    The original article was published in BMC Biology 2018 16:137

  8. The evolution of photosynthesis has been a major driver in eukaryotic diversification. Eukaryotes have acquired plastids (chloroplasts) either directly via the engulfment and integration of a photosynthetic cy...

    Authors: Ugo Cenci, Shannon J. Sibbald, Bruce A. Curtis, Ryoma Kamikawa, Laura Eme, Daniel Moog, Bernard Henrissat, Eric Maréchal, Malika Chabi, Christophe Djemiel, Andrew J. Roger, Eunsoo Kim and John M. Archibald
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:137

    The Commentary to this article has been published in BMC Biology 2018 16:140

  9. Bacteria and mitochondria contain translocases that function to transport proteins across or insert proteins into their inner and outer membranes. Extant mitochondria retain some bacterial-derived translocases...

    Authors: Markéta Petrů, Jeremy Wideman, Kristoffer Moore, Felicity Alcock, Tracy Palmer and Pavel Doležal
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:141
  10. Biologists have long been fascinated by the striking diversity of complex color patterns in tropical reef fishes. However, the origins and evolution of this diversity are still poorly understood. Disentangling...

    Authors: Pauline Salis, Natacha Roux, Olivier Soulat, David Lecchini, Vincent Laudet and Bruno Frédérich
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:90
  11. Between the 1930s and 50s, evolutionary biologists developed a successful theory of why organisms age, firmly rooted in population genetic principles. By the 1980s the evolution of aging had a secure experimen...

    Authors: Thomas Flatt and Linda Partridge
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:93
  12. The phenotypes of sperm are generally believed to be under the control of the diploid genotype of the male producing them rather than their own haploid genotypes, because developing spermatids share cytoplasm ...

    Authors: Richard Borowsky, Alissa Luk, Xinjian He and Rebecca S. Kim
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:72

    The Correction to this article has been published in BMC Biology 2023 21:128

  13. Domesticated from gray wolves between 10 and 40 kya in Eurasia, dogs display a vast array of phenotypes that differ from their ancestors, yet mirror other domesticated animal species, a phenomenon known as the...

    Authors: Amanda L. Pendleton, Feichen Shen, Angela M. Taravella, Sarah Emery, Krishna R. Veeramah, Adam R. Boyko and Jeffrey M. Kidd
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:64
  14. The evolutionary roots of human moral behavior are a key precondition to understanding human nature. Investigations usually start with a social dilemma and end up with a norm that can provide some insight into...

    Authors: J. Garay, S. Számadó, Z. Varga and E. Szathmáry
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:53
  15. Tunicates are the closest relatives of vertebrates and are widely used as models to study the evolutionary developmental biology of chordates. Their phylogeny, however, remains poorly understood, and to date, ...

    Authors: Frédéric Delsuc, Hervé Philippe, Georgia Tsagkogeorga, Paul Simion, Marie-Ka Tilak, Xavier Turon, Susanna López-Legentil, Jacques Piette, Patrick Lemaire and Emmanuel J. P. Douzery
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:39
  16. Much of the structure-based mechanistic understandings of the function of SLC6A neurotransmitter transporters emerged from the study of their bacterial LeuT-fold homologs. It has become evident, however, that ...

    Authors: Asghar M. Razavi, George Khelashvili and Harel Weinstein
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:31
  17. Eukaryotes evolved from the symbiotic association of at least two prokaryotic partners, and a good deal is known about the timings, mechanisms, and dynamics of these evolutionary steps. Recently, it was shown ...

    Authors: Raphaël Méheust, Debashish Bhattacharya, Jananan S. Pathmanathan, James O. McInerney, Philippe Lopez and Eric Bapteste
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:30
  18. The Golgi apparatus is a central meeting point for the endocytic and exocytic systems in eukaryotic cells, and the organelle’s dysfunction results in human disease. Its characteristic morphology of multiple di...

    Authors: Lael D. Barlow, Eva Nývltová, Maria Aguilar, Jan Tachezy and Joel B. Dacks
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:27

    The Correction to this article has been published in BMC Biology 2018 16:35

  19. Associations between traits are prevalent in nature, occurring across a diverse range of taxa and traits. Individual traits may co-evolve with one other, and these correlations can be driven by factors intrins...

    Authors: Dana A. Opulente, Emily J. Rollinson, Cleome Bernick-Roehr, Amanda Beth Hulfachor, Antonis Rokas, Cletus P. Kurtzman and Chris Todd Hittinger
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:26
  20. Paraphrasing Dobzhansky’s famous dictum, I discuss how interrogating cancer through the lens of evolution has transformed our understanding of its development, causality and treatment resistance. The emerging ...

    Authors: Mel Greaves
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:22
  21. Sex determination relies on a hierarchically structured network of genes, and is one of the most plastic processes in evolution. The evolution of sex-determining genes within a network, by neo- or sub-function...

    Authors: Manfred Schartl, Susanne Schories, Yuko Wakamatsu, Yusuke Nagao, Hisashi Hashimoto, Chloé Bertin, Brigitte Mourot, Cornelia Schmidt, Dagmar Wilhelm, Lazaro Centanin, Yann Guiguen and Amaury Herpin
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:16
  22. Polyploidization is one of the major evolutionary processes that shape eukaryotic genomes, being particularly common in plants. Polyploids can arise through direct genome doubling within a species (autopolyplo...

    Authors: Irene Julca, Marina Marcet-Houben, Pablo Vargas and Toni Gabaldón
    Citation: BMC Biology 2018 16:15
  23. Antennae are multi-segmented appendages and main odor-sensing organs in insects. In Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), antennal morphologies have diversified according to their ecological requirements. While...

    Authors: Toshiya Ando, Haruhiko Fujiwara and Tetsuya Kojima
    Citation: BMC Evolutionary Biology 2018 18:8
  24. The trillions of microbes living in the gut—the gut microbiota—play an important role in human biology and disease. While much has been done to explore its diversity, a full understanding of our microbiomes de...

    Authors: Emily R. Davenport, Jon G. Sanders, Se Jin Song, Katherine R. Amato, Andrew G. Clark and Rob Knight
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:127
  25. Population geneticists have long sought to understand the contribution of natural selection to molecular evolution. A variety of approaches have been proposed that use population genetics theory to quantify th...

    Authors: Tom R. Booker, Benjamin C. Jackson and Peter D. Keightley
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:98
  26. Mitochondria are predominantly inherited from the maternal gamete, even in unicellular organisms. Yet an extraordinary array of mechanisms enforce uniparental inheritance, which implies shifting selection pres...

    Authors: Arunas L. Radzvilavicius, Nick Lane and Andrew Pomiankowski
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:94
  27. What made us human? Gene expression changes clearly played a significant part in human evolution, but pinpointing the causal regulatory mutations is hard. Comparative genomics enabled the identification of hum...

    Authors: Lucía F. Franchini and Katherine S. Pollard
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:89
  28. Antibiotic natural products are ancient and so is resistance. Consequently, environmental bacteria harbor numerous and varied antibiotic resistance elements. Nevertheless, despite long histories of antibiotic ...

    Authors: Nicholas Waglechner and Gerard D. Wright
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:84
  29. In this question and answer article we discuss how evolution shapes morphology (the shape and pattern of our bodies) but also how learning about morphology, and specifically how that morphology arises during d...

    Authors: Neal Anthwal and Abigail S. Tucker
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:83
  30. For a subset of genes in our genome a change in gene dosage, by duplication or deletion, causes a phenotypic effect. These dosage-sensitive genes may confer an advantage upon copy number change, but more typic...

    Authors: Alan M. Rice and Aoife McLysaght
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:78
  31. Genomic evidence has demonstrated that humans and Neanderthals interbred. Today, the genomes of most individuals outside Africa contain 2–3% Neanderthal DNA. However, it is still hotly debated why the Neandert...

    Authors: Kelley Harris and Rasmus Nielsen
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:73
  32. The duplication of genes can occur through various mechanisms and is thought to make a major contribution to the evolutionary diversification of organisms. There is increasing evidence for a large-scale duplic...

    Authors: Evelyn E. Schwager, Prashant P. Sharma, Thomas Clarke, Daniel J. Leite, Torsten Wierschin, Matthias Pechmann, Yasuko Akiyama-Oda, Lauren Esposito, Jesper Bechsgaard, Trine Bilde, Alexandra D. Buffry, Hsu Chao, Huyen Dinh, HarshaVardhan Doddapaneni, Shannon Dugan, Cornelius Eibner…
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:62
  33. Model organisms are widely used in research as accessible and convenient systems to study a particular area or question in biology. Traditionally only a handful of organisms have been widely studied, but moder...

    Authors: James J. Russell, Julie A. Theriot, Pranidhi Sood, Wallace F. Marshall, Laura F. Landweber, Lillian Fritz-Laylin, Jessica K. Polka, Snezhana Oliferenko, Therese Gerbich, Amy Gladfelter, James Umen, Magdalena Bezanilla, Madeline A. Lancaster, Shuonan He, Matthew C. Gibson, Bob Goldstein…
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:55
  34. Biological systems integrate multiscale processes and networks and are, therefore, viewed as difficult to dissect. However, because of the clear-cut separation between the software code (the information encode...

    Authors: Sophien Kamoun
    Citation: BMC Biology 2017 15:37