Symbiotic Composition and Evolvability
Watson, Richard A.
Pollack, Jordan B.
Several of the Major Transitions in natural evolution, such as the symbiogenic origin of eukaryotes from prokaryotes, share the feature that existing entities became the components of composite entities at a higher level of organisation. This composition of pre-adapted extant entities into a new whole is a fundamentally different source of variation from the gradual accumulation of small random variations, and it has some interesting consequences for issues of evolvability. In this paper we present a very abstract model of 'symbiotic composition' to explore its possible impact on evolvability. A particular adaptive landscape is used to exemplify a class where symbiotic composition has an adaptive advantage with respect to evolution under mutation and sexual recombination. Whilst innovation using conventional evolutionary algorithms becomes increasingly more difficult as evolution continues in this problem, innovation via symbiotic composition continues through successive hierarchical levels unimpeded. <br/>