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The Great Evolutionary Divide: Two Genomic Systems Biologies of Aging

Published Web Location Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

There is not one systems biology of aging, but two. Though aging can evolve in either sexual or asexual species when there is asymmetric reproduction, the evolutionary genetics of aging in species with frequent sexual recombination are quite different from those arising when sex is rare or absent. When recombination is rare, selection is expected to act chiefly on rare large-effect mutations, which purge genetic variation due to genome-wide hitchhiking. In such species, the systems biology of aging can focus on the effects of large-effect mutants, transgenics, and combinations of such genetic manipulations. By contrast, sexually outbreeding species maintain abundant genetic polymorphism within populations. In such species, the systems biology of aging can examine the genome-wide effects of selection and genetic drift on the numerous polymorphic loci that respond to laboratory selection for different patterns of aging. An important question of medical relevance is to what extent insights derived from the systems biology of aging in model species can be applied to human aging.

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