Collective evolution and the genetic code

Kalin Vetsigian, Carl Woese, Nigel Goldenfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A dynamical theory for the evolution of the genetic code is presented, which accounts for its universality and optimality. The central concept is that a variety of collective, but non-Darwinian, mechanisms likely to be present in early communal life generically lead to refinement and selection of innovation-sharing protocols, such as the genetic code. Our proposal is illustrated by using a simplified computer model and placed within the context of a sequence of transitions that early life may have made, before the emergence of vertical descent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10696-10701
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number28
StatePublished - Jul 11 2006


  • Horizontal gene transfer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Collective evolution and the genetic code'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this