Evolutionary Physiology growing up

Evolutionary Physiology growing up

Galván, I., Schwartz, T. S., & Garland, T. (2021). Evolutionary physiology at 30+: Has the promise been fulfilled?: Advances in Evolutionary Physiology. BioEssays, 2100167. https://doi.org/10.1002/bies.202100167

Abstract Three decades ago, interactions between evolutionary biology and physiology gave rise to evolutionary physiology. This caused comparative physiologists to improve their research methods by incorporating evolutionary thinking. Simultaneously, evolutionary biologists began focusing more on physiological mechanisms that may help to explain constraints on and trade-offs during microevolutionary processes, as well as macroevolutionary patterns in physiological diversity. Here we argue that evolutionary physiology has yet to reach its full potential, and propose new avenues that may lead to unexpected advances. Viewing physiological adaptations in wild animals as potential solutions to human diseases offers enormous possibilities for biomedicine. New evidence of epigenetic modifications as mechanisms of phenotypic plasticity that regulate physiological traits may also arise in coming years, which may also represent an overlooked enhancer of adaptation via natural selection to explain physiological evolution. Synergistic interactions at these intersections and other areas will lead to a novel understanding of organismal biology.

Cooperation and cheating in viruses

Cooperation and cheating in viruses

Leeks, A., West, S. A., & Ghoul, M. (2021). The evolution of cheating in viruses. Nature Communications, 12(1), 6928. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-27293-6 (open access).

Abstract

Abstract: The success of many viruses depends upon cooperative interactions between viral genomes. However, whenever cooperation occurs, there is the potential for ‘cheats’ to exploit that cooperation. We suggest that: (1) the biology of viruses makes viral cooperation particularly susceptible to cheating; (2) cheats are common across a wide range of viruses, including viral entities that are already well studied, such as defective interfering genomes, and satellite viruses. Consequently, the evolutionary theory of cheating could help us understand and manipulate viral dynamics, while viruses also offer new opportunities to study the evolution of cheating.

Bacteria induce wound healing via IL-1β

Bacteria induce wound healing via IL-1β

An intriguing article suggests that topical antibiotics may slow wound healing.

Wang, G., Sweren, E., Liu, H., Wier, E., Alphonse, M. P., Chen, R., Islam, N., Li, A., Xue, Y., Chen, J., Park, S., Chen, Y., Lee, S., Wang, Y., Wang, S., Archer, N. K., Andrews, W., Kane, M. A., Dare, E., … Garza, L. A. (2021). Bacteria induce skin regeneration via IL-1β signaling. Cell Host & Microbe, 29(5), 777-791.e6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2021.03.003. Research Gate

Summary below
Environmental factors that enhance regeneration are largely unknown. The immune system and microbiome are attributed roles in repairing and regenerating structure but their precise interplay is unclear. Here, we assessed the function of skin bacteria in wound healing and wound-induced hair follicle neogenesis (WIHN), a rare adult organogenesis model. WIHN levels and stem cell markers correlate with bacterial counts, being lowest in germ-free (GF), intermediate in conventional specific pathogen-free (SPF), and highest in wild-type mice, even those infected with pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus. Reducing skin microbiota via cage changes or topical antibiotics decreased WIHN. Inflammatory cytokine IL-1β and keratinocyte-dependent IL-1R-MyD88 signaling are necessary and sufficient for bacteria to promote regeneration. Finally, in a small trial, a topical broad-spectrum antibiotic also slowed skin wound healing in adult volunteers. These results demonstrate a role for IL-1β to control morphogenesis and support the need to reconsider routine applications of topical prophylactic antibiotics.

EMPH Call for Papers

EMPH Call for Papers

Evolution, Medicine and Public Health welcomes submissions for three topical issues of the journal:

Evolutionary Medicine & Palaeopathology (Edited by Kimberly Plomp, Gillian Bentley, and Frank Rühli) – Submission deadline 15 December 2021

Evolutionary Medicine and Health Disparities (Edited by C. Brandon Ogbunu and Fatimah Jackson) – Submission deadline 15 December 2021

Evolutionary and Biopsychosocial Perspectives on Sickness Communication (Edited by Eric Shattuck and Chloe Boyle) – Submission deadline 15 April 2022

Control theory for Evolutionary Medicine

Control theory for Evolutionary Medicine

“Evolutionary Medicine Needs Engineering Expertise”
by Randolph M Nesse,
The National Academy of Engineering “Perspectives.”

“Engineering has made vast contributions to health and medicine, from designing water and sewer systems that have saved millions of lives to optimizing healthcare delivery systems and creating ever more sophisticated medical devices. New applications of evolutionary biology to medicine are now giving rise to new opportunities for engineering to enhance understanding of disease. Projects that bring engineering expertise to bear on the questions addressed by evolutionary medicine promise major advances.

What Is Evolutionary Medicine?

Evolutionary medicine is the field that uses the principles of evolutionary biology to better understand, prevent, and treat disease. Medicine has made great progress by viewing the body from a mechanic’s point of view—asking how it works, what has gone wrong, and how to fix it. Evolutionary medicine adds an engineer’s point of view by also asking why natural selection left so many aspects of the body vulnerable to disease.

Naïve attempts to answer such questions sometimes suggest that diseases like cancer, schizophrenia, and diabetes somehow give advantages, but such explanations are almost always wrong. Diseases are not adaptations shaped by natural selection, so they do not have direct evolutionary explanations.

The correct objects of evolutionary explanation are traits that leave humans vulnerable to diseases and problems. Why is the windpipe located where food can block it? Why is the birth passage obstructed by a narrow ring of bone? Why hasn’t natural selection provided better protection against infection? Can an answer to that question help to explain the prevalence of excessive inflammation that causes autoimmune diseases, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease? Why are pain, anxiety, and depression often excessive? Why are people vulnerable to obesity, eating disorders, and addiction? And why hasn’t natural selection provided better protection against cancer?

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