Critical transition across the Waddington landscape as an interpretative model. Comment on "Dynamic and thermodynamic models of adaptation" by A.N. Gorban et al.
The concept of biological adaptation is closely connected to phenotypic plasticity, which epitomizes the process of phenotypic transition across different states  (attractors, in the lexicon of self-organized criticality) . According to Waddington's approach  - recently deepened by several theoretical studies  - living organisms undergoes numerous symmetry breakings across the differentiating path in response to environmental cues and constraints . Those factors act in a non-instructive manner by selecting (and eventually shaping) the more "appropriate" phenotype (sustained by a corresponding, specific gene-regulatory network) that will maximize system's fitness, thereby adopting the best "adaptive" architecture without requiring genetic (mutation) changes . This perspective help explaining a number of controversial results and - what is more - allows to identify those "tipping point" from which living systems can access into disease states or eventually be committed toward phenotyping "reprogramming" . Yet, attractive as this theoretical framework may be, several hurdles still await compelling resolution. The extensive and remarkable survey by A.N. Gorban et al. , provides some fruitful insights by addressing the most critical issues related to this topic.
Physics of Life Reviews
- Pub Date:
- September 2021