Linkage: A “double tale” of module creation in evolving networks

G. Caetano-Anollés, F. Mughal, M. F. Aziz, I. Koç, K. Caetano-Anollés, D. Caetano-Anollés, J. E. Mittenthal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In biology, structure is driven by accretion and change. Accretion brings together disparate parts to form bigger wholes, while change provides opportunities for growth and innovation. Here we review patterns and processes that are responsible for a "double tale" of evolutionary accretion and change at various levels of complexity. We focus on proteins and nucleic acids. In our "linkage" model, parts are at first weakly linked and associate variously. As they diversify, they compete with each other and are selected for performance. The emerging interactions constrain their structure and associations. This causes parts to self-organize into modules with tight linkage. In a second phase, variants of the modules evolve and become new parts for a new generative cycle of higher-level organization. As a way forward, we formalized the concept of linkage with a network in which nodes represent parts and links describe node interactions, predicting that the "double tale" induces both hierarchy and modularity in evolving networks. Remarkably, evolutionary genomics and network biology support the linkage hypothesis and validate an evolutionary "principle of granularity" that drives the gain and loss of modules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationUntangling Molecular Biodiversity
Subtitle of host publicationExplaining Unity And Diversity Principles Of Organization With Molecular Structure And Evolutionary Genomics
EditorsGustavo Caetano-Anollés
PublisherWorld Scientific
Number of pages78
ISBN (Electronic)9789814656627
ISBN (Print)9789814656610
StatePublished - Dec 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Linkage: A “double tale” of module creation in evolving networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this