Editorial: Biological Complexity Emerges from the Ashes of Genetic Reductionism

  • Marc H V Van Regenmortel


Fifty years after the elucidation of the double helix structure of DNA, heralded by some as providing the solution to the mystery of life, an increasing number of biologists have become critical of the reductionist view that biological systems can be fully explained by the physico-chemical properties of their constituent parts. Biology is increasingly regarded as an autonomous discipline requiring its own explanatory concepts not found in chemistry and physics, and it has become accepted that biological systems can only be understood in terms of their evolutionary history on Earth. The current rejection of reductionism as an acceptable approach for explaining biological phenomena may seem paradoxical since the value of reductionism as a research strategy for dissecting and analysing the constituents of biological systems has never been questioned. The outstanding success of molecular biology in unravelling the structural and chemical basis of living processes is indeed a clear testimony of the value of reductionism as an analytical methodology.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc H V Van Regenmortel
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BiotechnologyUniversity of StrasbourgIllkirchFrance

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