Dynamic structures in evo-devo: From morphogenetic fields to evolving organisms
Evolution does not act on particular stages in the life of an organism. Instead, it alters developmental processes and life cycles in response to environmental conditions to bring about phenotypic change. The structure of these processes determines evolvability, the capacity of organisms to adapt. These structures are intrinsically dynamic. The organisational principles underlying organisms and the morphogenetic fields that constitute their ontogeny actively remodel themselves over time.
How this occurs, and how it influences the rate and direction of evolutionary change, are central questions for biology. They lead us to fundamentally reconsider the active role of organisms in evolutionary change, which raises the possibility of a new agent-based theory of evolution in which organisms and their perceived environments co-construct each other in a radically innovative dialectic dynamic.
J. Jaeger, Dynamic structures in evo-devo: From morphogenetic fields to evolving organisms, In: Perspectives on Evolutionary and Developmental Biology: essays for Alessandro Minelli, Fusco G (ed.), Padua Univ Press, Padua.