Dynamics and evolution of biological and social networks

Phylogeny and the construction of biological relationships

Author: Susanna C. Manrubia, Centro de Astrobiología, INTA-CSIC.

Names and affiliation of other authors:

Oral presentation

Biological systems, as we see them today, are the result of a long process where new variants have been fixed or discarded depending on their suitability to enhance survival in fluctuating environments. Evolution and selection act at different levels, from the molecular organization of genomes to the stable association of species in ecosystems. In all cases, the network of relationships among molecules or species, e.g., is the result of a very long period of construction where, likely, many proposals were unsuccessful. The topology of phylogenetic trees and the structure of networks in biological systems are two sides of the same coin, and the latter could in principle retain a sort of (evolutionary) memory of the former process. Advances in our understanding of the universal features of natural systems might benefit from the simultaneous analysis of trees (which carry a time signal) and networks (displaying the relationships at a fixed time). As an example, we will discuss the relevance that ecological networks constructed through the slow addition of new species to the global ecosystem could have in explaining large-scale evolutionary patterns. On-going studies on the phylogenetic patters displayed by evolving molecular quasispecies might shed light on the mechanisms that confer generic topological properties to phylogenetic trees.

Dynamics and evolution of biological and social networks. February 18-20th, 2008. Mallorca, Spain.