During the lifetime of an organism, every individual encounters many combinations of diverse changes in the somatic genome, epigenome and microbiome. This gives rise to unimaginable number of novel combinations of internal perturbation which are unique to each individual. How any individual can tolerate this high load of new, individual-specific perturbations is not clear. We have recently propose a conceptual solution based on a new principle of adaptation (termed ‘Adaptive Improvisation’), which explains how random variation of any kind (and scale) can self-organize to confer a wide range of individual-specific adaptations beyond the existing outcomes of natural selection. This principle portrays gene regulation as an inseparable synergy between Darwinian selection and Lamarckian adaptation by improvisation. The division of workload between the two is regulated by stress which is viewed as a physical-like force that modifies the state of the organism until re-acquisition of relative homeostasis. I will present experimental work-in-progress which may support this idea and, if time permits, I will include a more general discussion.
Yoav Soen is a biophysicist interested in how robust organisms can be sufficiently plastic to cope with new problems. Yoav was formally trained in Electrical Engineering and Physics (Technion, Israel Institute of Technology). After graduating, he got interested in Life Sciences and conducted a postdoctoral research with Patrick Brown at Stanford University, Dept. of Biochemistry (2001-2006). On 2006, Yoav established a research lab in the Weizmann Institute of Science, Department of Biological Chemistry. His group takes an experimental approach for studying how developing flies cope with unfamiliar scenarios of stress, the underlying epigenetic and symbiotic mechanisms of response, the trans-generational implications of these events and how they may bridge ecological and evolutionary processes.