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Applying evolutionary biology to address global challenges

New Study in Science urges application of contemporary evolution to address global challenges

Credit: Pete Lewis, UK Department for International Development; via Flickr: http://bit.ly/1CWbkAB

In a study published in Science in late 2014, Institute Director Scott Carroll and eight co-authors provide a path forward using applied evolutionary biology to support sustainable development. "Rethinking our approach to sustainability will be critical to achieve United Nation's international sustainable development goals" says Carroll. The authors suggest how applied evolution can be used to reach these goals, such as with market incentives in medicine to reduce virulence and resistance of pathogens, improve yields with increased access to artificially selected varieties, and the use of non-selective harvesting strategies informed by evolutionary early warning signals to avoid collapse and protect genetic diversity of marine resources. Mitigating these challenges is a daunting task and a coordinated global effort is needed to move forward.