Recommended Reading On Evolution Principles/Key Ideas
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9.4 years ago
epigene ▴ 570

Guys, I'm always a bit confused on all the evolutionary claims in the journal papers. I want to do some reading on this topic to make sure I understand what those claims actually mean. I can google search the terms like purifying selection, neutral selection etc but I'd like to get some recommendations on some of the best explanations on these topics. Please let me know if you know some! Thanks.

evolution • 2.9k views
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We only talk about Intelligent Design here. Sorry :/

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For future readers, see contemporaneous context here: Why Does Biostar Cover Questions on Epigenetics, but not Intelligent Design? :)

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9.4 years ago
ugly.betty77 ★ 1.1k

Dan Graur wrote a commentary, which would serve as the shortest and to-the-point introduction. It covers almost every technical term related to the topic.

Mutations (Synonymous, Nonsynonymous, Silent, Noisy, Sense, Nonsense, Missense, Neutral, Advantageous, Deleterious): A Short Primer (Synonymous ≠ Silent ≠ Neutral)

Point mutations in protein-coding regions are heritable DNA changes in which one nucleotide is substituted by another in any one of the three codon positions. Point mutations in protein-coding regions can be divided into synonymous and nonsynymous. Because in the great majority of cases, synonymous changes do not alter the amino acid sequence of the protein encoded by the mutated sequence and are, therefore, not detectable at the amino acid level, the terms synonymous and silent mutation are often used interchangeably in the literature. Often, synonymous mutations are also treated as neutral mutations, i.e., mutations that do not affect fitness. Thus, in many publications, synonymous = silent = neutral.

SNIP....

I have written this short essay as an educational service hoping that beginners in the field of molecular evolution, such as ENCODE’s “lead analysts,” “scientific managers,” “members of the writing group,” and “members of the steering committee,” may learn a thing of two about proper evolutionary nomenclature and logic. I am not, however, very optimistic. Paraphrasing my late mother, explaining basic definitions and principles to the “badly trained technicians” of ENCODE may be as difficult as “explaining the principles of the lunar calendar to a cow.”

For bigger intro, you may have to sit down and read his book or other related books -

http://www.amazon.com/Fundamentals-Molecular-Evolution-Dan-Graur/dp/0878932666

I have not read his book, but you can check the content and chapter 2 below before deciding on whether to buy.

http://www.sinauer.com/media/wysiwyg/tocs/FundamentalsMolecularEvolution.pdf

http://www.genomics.arizona.edu/553/Readings/Other/Graur_Li_2000.pdf

I have not read the wiki pages on the terms you asked about, but wiki on some other technical topics are questionable. For example, the wiki page of ENCODE reads like it is maintained by the funding director at NIH.

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9.4 years ago
Josh Herr 5.7k

In addition to the Wikipedia links from Deedee, I would recommend a few books to help you understand evolutionary biology -- although most books do not connect evolutionary biology directly to bioinformatics -- that's up for you to do.

There are many, many, excellent books out there on the subject of evolutionary genetics. Here are two lists (here and here) which include some good books on evolutionary genetics. Two of the best books in my opinion are from Brian & Deborah Charlesworth -- the excellent and very in depth Elements of Evolutionary Genetics is an essential book (as I mentioned - this is my opinion - some may like other books). If you don't have the time or money to invest in that read or just plain want a basic quick read, they also have an the excellent Evolution - A Very Short Introduction.

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9.4 years ago
Dan D 7.4k

My sarcastic comment aside, I would just use Wikipedia for the basics. The articles are hard to beat as a starting point for grok'ing the concepts and finding out where to learn more via references:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punctuated_equilibrium

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phylogenetics

And this for a nice starting point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Evolutionary_biology

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