Takao K. Suzuki
- The Biophysical Society of Japan
- Biophysics and Physicobiology (ISSN:21894779)
- vol.19, pp.e190011, 2022 (Released:2022-04-20)
Design principles of phenotypes in organisms are fundamental issues in physical biology. So far, understanding “systems” of living organisms have been chiefly promoted by understanding the underlying biomolecules such as genes and proteins, and their intra- and inter-relationships and regulations. After a long period of sophistication, biophysics and molecular biology have established a general framework for understanding ‘molecular systems’ in organisms without regard to species, so that the findings of fly studies can be applied to mouse studies. However, little attention has been paid to exploring “phenotypic systems” in organisms, and thus its general framework remains poorly understood. Here I review concepts, methods, and case studies using butterfly and moth wing patterns to explore phenotypes as systems. First, I present a unifying framework for phenotypic traits as systems, termed multi-component systems. Second, I describe how to define components of phenotypic systems, and also show how to quantify interactions among phenotypic parts. Subsequently, I introduce the concept of the macro-evolutionary process, which illustrates how to generate complex traits. In this point, I also introduce mathematical methods, “phylogenetic comparative methods”, which provide stochastic processes along molecular phylogeny as bifurcated paths to quantify trait evolution. Finally, I would like to propose two key concepts, macro-evolutionary pathways and genotype-phenotype loop (GP loop), which must be needed for the next directions. I hope these efforts on phenotypic biology will become one major target in biophysics and create the next generations of textbooks. This review article is an extended version of the Japanese article, Biological Physics in Phenotypic Systems of Living Organisms, published in SEIBUTSU-BUTSURI Vol. 61, p. 31–35 (2021).