The Evolution & Medicine Review

Evolutionary Physiology growing up

by | Nov 26, 2021 | Reviews

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

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.