Towards an engineering theory of evolution

Simeon D. Castle, Claire S. Grierson & Thomas E. Gorochowski
Nature Communications volume 12, Article number: 3326 (2021)

Biological technologies are fundamentally unlike any other because biology evolves. Bioengineering therefore requires novel design methodologies with evolution at their core. Knowledge about evolution is currently applied to the design of biosystems ad hoc. Unless we have an engineering theory of evolution, we will neither be able to meet evolution’s potential as an engineering tool, nor understand or limit its unintended consequences for our biological designs. Here, we propose the evotype as a helpful concept for engineering the evolutionary potential of biosystems, or other self-adaptive technologies, potentially beyond the realm of biology. Effective biological engineering requires the acknowledgement of evolution and its consideration during the design process. In this perspective, the authors present the concept of the evotype to reason about and shape the evolutionary potential of natural and engineered biosystems.

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