Failure of Genetic Determinism - Life Beyond Genes

Barbara McClintock, Nobel laureate in Medicine has demonstrated through her work on transposons that genes were not the foundational concept of life [1, 2]. Crick had already predicted that if unknown transfers of the central dogma were occurring in nature, then it would shake the foundations of biology [3]. This has put the cell and the organism back to the centre stage. It is not possible to derive any genomic or other molecular units for life [4]. The genetic substance itself is a dynamic structure and functions as a co-participating member in the totality of organism. Modern biology has deduced that life is to be seen as a totality of organism, environment and nature [5, 6]. It is a web of life and no organism can be considered in isolation. Therefore how much of the living function is determined in the genes is a question [7]. This failure means we have to consider life from a different perspective in a call for new biology which to us will be assigning a fundamental role to consciousness in order to account for its subject-object unity [8, 9]. We have to include higher concepts like intelligence, mind, desire and free will within biology for studying what really determines the organism and biodiversity [10]. Contributors are invited to submit their views and papers to discuss this topic from various perspectives of modern genetics, cell biology and from all other scientific fields which are relevant to critical assessment in the study of structure, functionality and definition of organisms.


[1] McClintock, B., The significance of responses of the genome to challenge, Nobel lecture, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, U.S.A., (8 Dec., 1983).

[2] Lanza, R., Berman, B., Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness are the Keys to Understanding the True Nature of the Universe, BenBella Books, May 18, (2010).

[3] Gingeras, T. R., Origin of phenotypes: Genes and transcripts, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 17:682–690, (2007).

[4] Crick, F., Central dogma of molecular biology. Nature, Vol. 227, 561-563, (1970).

[5] Shapiro, J. A., Genome Informatics: The Role of DNA in Cellular Computations, Biological Theory, Vol. 1(3), 288–301, (2006).

[6] Noble, D., The music of life: Biology beyond the genome. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 176, (2006).

[7] Gilbert S. O., Grand Challenges and Great Opportunities in Science, Technology, and Public Policy, Science, Vol. 314 no. 5806 pp. 1696-1704, (15 Dec., 2006).

[8] Ford, B. J., Are Cells ingenious?, Microscope, Vol. 52:3/4, 135-144, (2004).

[9] Hegel, G.W.F., Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences, Part III: The Philosophy of Spirit, Section one: Subjective spirit., § 367

[10] Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, A. C., Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Chapter 7, Verse 4 and 5, Commentary and Translations, BBT.

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