Universal Scaling Laws in Biology from Genomes to Ecosystems; Towards a Quantitative Theory of Biological Structure and Organization
By Geoffrey West
23rd January 2007
The universality and simplicity of these relationships suggest that fundamental universal principles underly much of the coarse-grained generic structure and organisation of living systems. We have proposed a set of principles based on the observation that almost all life is sustained by hierarchical branching networks, which are assumed to be space-filling and optimised by natural selection. It will be shown how these explain quarter power scaling and lead to a general quantitative, predictive theory that captures many of the essential features of many diverse biological systems.
Examples will include animal circulatory systems, plant vascular systems, growth, cancer, aging and mortality, sleep, cell size and genome lengths, mitochondrial densities, DNA nucleotide substitution rates and the concept of a universal molecular clock. Thermodynamic considerations, dimensionality and the role of invariants will be discussed.