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Randomness in Evolution$
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John Tyler Bonner

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157016

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157016.001.0001

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Small Organisms and Neutral Morphologies

Small Organisms and Neutral Morphologies

(p.40) Chapter 3 Small Organisms and Neutral Morphologies
Randomness in Evolution

John Tyler Bonner

Princeton University Press

This chapter reviews how morphological randomness is dealt with at different size levels, beginning with eukaryotic microorganisms, where we see the greatest amount of morphological randomness in both aquatic and terrestrial forms. It suggests that microorganisms might in some circumstances have neutral morphologies. This means that there are significant differences between individual morphologies, but natural selection is blind to them. It proposes candidates for this unconventional condition for both aquatic and terrestrial forms. In particular, it considers eukaryotic microorganisms, and not bacteria and archaea. The concern here is with morphology and the degree to which it is adaptive, and bacteria and archaea have very limited morphologies; their variation exists mostly in the form of multitudinous biochemical differences.

Keywords:   morphological randomness, size, evolutionary biology, eukaryotic microorganisms

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