Recruitment: A Problem of Entangled Temporal Parts

Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, M. Fayez Aziz, Fizza Mughal, Ibrahim Koç, Kelsey Caetano-Anollés, Derek Caetano-Anollés

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Recruitment is a pervasive activity of life that is at the center of novelty generation and persistence. Without recruitment, novelties cannot spread and biological systems cannot maintain identity through time. Here we explore the problem of identity and change unfolding in space and time. We illustrate recruitment operating at different timescales with metabolic networks, protein domain makeup, the functionome, and the rise of viral 'variants of concern' during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. We define persistence within a framework of fluxes of matter-energy and information and signal processing in response to internal and external challenges. A 'triangle of persistence' describing reuse, innovation and stasis defines a useful polytope in a phase space of trade-offs between economy, flexibility and robustness. We illustrate how the concept of temporal parts embraced by the perdurantist school provides a processual 4-dimensional 'worm' view of biology that is historical and atemporal. This view is made explicit with chronologies and evolving networks inferred with phylogenomic methodologies. Exploring the origin and evolution of the ribosome reveals recruitment of helical segments and/or large fragments of interacting rRNA molecules in a unification process of accretion that is counteracted by diversification. A biphasic (bow-tie) theory of module generation models this frustrated dynamics. Finally, we further elaborate on a theory of entanglement that takes advantage of the dimensionality reduction offered by holographic principles to propose that short and long-distance interactions are responsible for the increasingly granular and tangled structure of biological systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)128
JournalFrontiers in Bioscience - Landmark
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 18 2022


  • Evolution
  • hierarchical modularity
  • horizontal exchange
  • ribosome
  • proteome
  • perdurantism
  • origin
  • molecular functions
  • molecular evolution
  • metabolic networks
  • persistence
  • endurantism
  • gene ontology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Recruitment: A Problem of Entangled Temporal Parts'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this