Nicht Baukasten, sondern Netzwerk - die Idee des Organismus in Genetik und Epigenetik
The rapid progress of molecular biology cannot elude the fact that the fundamental relationship between phenotype and genotype remains obscure. I postulate that this obscurity will persist because living beings are not realizations of their own genetic program, but - on the contrary - its active interpreters. A review of the development of molecular biology from its central dogma to its actual advances reveals that the processes in the molecular network between DNA, RNA and protein cannot be understood either, unless meaning is given by the organisms themselves. In addition, the results of molecular biology show that a continuum exists between living being and environment, and thus abolish the separation of variation and selection as two independent processes.
Goethe’s theory of the living allows for a thorough understanding of organisms. It introduces a ‘double law’ with a constituting principle - the inner nature - and a modifying principle - the outer conditions. The first takes into account an active and species specific interplay of the organism with its milieu. The second encompasses all molecular and cellular processes, i.e. the inner environment, as well as the interactions with the outer environment. The presentation of non-target effects of the genetic modification of crop plants demonstrates the usefulness of Goethe’s law in modern biology.