Journal Article

Addressing Grand Challenges In Organismal Biology: The Need For Synthesis

Dianna K. Padilla, Thomas L. Daniel, Patsy S. Dickinson, Daniel Grünbaum, Cheryl Hayashi, Donal T. Manahan, James H. Marden, Billie J. Swalla and Brian Tsukimura

in BioScience

Volume 64, issue 12, pages 1178-1187
Published in print December 2014 | ISSN: 0006-3568
Published online October 2014 | e-ISSN: 1525-3244 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu164
Addressing Grand Challenges In Organismal Biology: The Need For Synthesis

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Animals are complex systems operating at multiple spatial and temporal scales, facing the challenge of how to change in appropriate ways, degrees, and times, in response to the diverse internal and external influences to which they are exposed. Discovering the system-level attributes of organisms that make them resilient or robust—or sensitive or fragile—to change presents a grand challenge for biology. Knowledge of these attributes and the underlying mechanisms controlling them is crucially needed to predict how organisms will respond to short- and long-term changes in internal and external environments, including those driven by climate change. Organismal biologists require novel approaches that extend beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, especially when they partner with mathematicians and engineers. Pursuing this research enterprise will not only give us a deeper understanding of how organisms will face future challenges, but it will also reveal nature-inspired solutions in complex engineered systems, both of which will benefit science and society.

Keywords: organismal biology; grand challenges; integrative biology; systems engineering; predictive modeling

Journal Article.  7352 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Biological Sciences ; Environment

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