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A Computational Model of Symbiotic Composition in Evolutionary Transitions

Watson, Richard A. and Pollack, Jordan B. (2002) A Computational Model of Symbiotic Composition in Evolutionary Transitions BioSystems, 69, (2-3), pp. 187-209.

Record type: Article


Several of the major transitions in evolutionary history, such as the symbiogenic origin of eukaryotes from prokaryotes, share the feature that existing entities became the components of composite entities at a higher level of organisation. This composition of pre-adapted extant entities into a new whole is a fundamentally different source of variation from the gradual accumulation of small random variations, and it has some interesting consequences for issues of evolvability. Intuitively, the pre-adaptation of sets of features in reproductively independent specialists suggests a form of ‘divide and conquer’ decomposition of the adaptive domain. Moreover, the compositions resulting from one level may become the components for compositions at the next level, thus scaling-up the variation mechanism. In this paper, we explore and develop these concepts using a simple abstract model of symbiotic composition to examine its impact on evolvability. To exemplify the adaptive capacity of the composition model, we employ a scale-invariant fitness landscape exhibiting significant ruggedness at all scales. Whilst innovation by mutation and by conventional evolutionary algorithms becomes increasingly more difficult as evolution continues in this landscape, innovation by composition is not impeded as it discovers and assembles component entities through successive hierarchical levels.

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Published date: May 2002
Additional Information: pdf provided is a PREPRINT. Please use original for citations.
Keywords: Symbiogenesis, Major evolutionary transitions, Evolutionary computation, Evolutionary algorithms, Symbiogenic evolutionary adaptation model, Hierarchical-if-and-only-if (HIFF)
Organisations: Agents, Interactions & Complexity


Local EPrints ID: 260279
PURE UUID: 69ebe408-4496-493f-a791-9ad41e3a9937

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Date deposited: 18 Jan 2005
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 09:14

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Author: Jordan B. Pollack

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