Evolutionary biology is widely perceived as a discipline with relevance that lies purely in academia. Until recently, that perception was largely true, except for the often neglected role of evolutionary biology in the improvement of agricultural crops and animals. In the past two decades, however, evolutionary biology has assumed a broad relevance extending far outside its original bounds. Phylogenetics, the study of Darwin's theory of “descent with modification,” is now the foundation of disease tracking and of the identification of species in medical, pharmacological, or conservation settings. It further underlies bioinformatics approaches to the analysis of genomes. Darwin's “evolution by natural selection” is being used in many contexts, from the design of biotechnology protocols to create new drugs and industrial enzymes, to the avoidance of resistant pests and microbes, to the development of new computer technologies. These examples present opportunities for education of the public and for nontraditional career paths in evolutionary biology. They also provide new research material for people trained in classical approaches.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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