What We Are Reading Today: Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation, by Günter P. Wagner

Updated 06 July 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Homology, Genes, and Evolutionary Innovation, by Günter P. Wagner

Homology — a similar trait shared by different species and derived from common ancestry, such as a seal’s fin and a bird’s wing — is one of the most fundamental yet challenging concepts in evolutionary biology. This groundbreaking book provides the first mechanistically based theory of what homology is and how it arises in evolution, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

Günter Wagner, one of the preeminent researchers in the field, argues that homology, or character identity, can be explained through the historical continuity of character identity networks — that is, the gene regulatory networks that enable differential gene expression. 

He shows how character identity is independent of the form and function of the character itself because the same network can activate different effector genes and thus control the development of different shapes, sizes, and qualities of the character. 

Demonstrating how this theoretical model can provide a foundation for understanding the evolutionary origin of novel characters, Wagner applies it to the origin and evolution of specific systems, such as cell types; skin, hair, and feathers; limbs and digits; and flowers.


The Six: World-famous authors at Emirates Literature Festival

The Emirates Literature Festival is set to run from March 1-9, 2019. (Shutterstock)
Updated 26 min 20 sec ago
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The Six: World-famous authors at Emirates Literature Festival

DUBAI: Set to run from March 1-9, 2019, the festival boats a stellar lineup of authors, including these famous faces.

Ian Rankin
Ian Rankin is best known for his “Inspector Rebus” detective series, the 22nd of which, “In a House of Lies,” was published in 2018. He is set to speak on stage on March 8 and 9.

Jane Hawking
Stephen Hawking’s wife for more than twenty years, Jane Hawking is a writer and lecturer. Her 2002 memoir, “Traveling to Infinity,” was turned into the critically-acclaimed 2015 movie, “The Theory of Everything.”

Frank Gardner
The renowned British correspondent was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his services to journalism in 2005 and is set to give a talk on March 9.

Zeina Hashem Beck
The Lebanese poet’s most recent collection, “Louder than Hearts,” won the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize.

Aziz Mohammed
The Saudi writer and poet published his debut novel, “The Critical Case of ‘K’,” in 2017 and it was shortlisted for the International Prize for the Arabic Fiction in 2018.

Dubai Abulhoul Alfalasi
The author of “Galagolia,” the first Emirati fantasy novel in English, she is currently writing a series of children’s books on Emirati folklore.