Inheritance is where physiology meets evolution


Physiology and evolutionary biology have developed as two separated disciplines, a separation that mirrored the hypothesis that the physiological and evolutionary processes could be decoupled. We argue that non‐genetic inheritance shatters the frontier between physiology and evolution, and leads to the coupling of physiological and evolutionary processes to a point where there exists a continuum between accommodation by phenotypic plasticity and adaptation by natural selection. This approach is also profoundly affecting the definition of the concept of phenotypic plasticity, which should now be envisaged as a multi‐scale concept. We further suggest that inclusive inheritance provides a quantitative way to help bridging infra‐individual (i.e. physiology) with supra‐individual (i.e. evolution) approaches, in a way that should help building the long sough inclusive evolutionary synthesis.

The Journal of Physiology