Molecular Evolution Activities

Documents on Molecular Evolution

Profiles-Emile Zuckerkandl

Emile Zuckerkandl is considered by many to be one of the founders of the field of molecular evolution. Born in Vienna, Austria in 1922, he fled with his affluent Jewish family to Paris and Algiers to escape Nazi persecution in 1938. After the war, Zuckerkandl came to American and received his master's degree in physiology from the University of Illinois in 1947. Upon returning to Paris, he earned a Ph.D. in biology from the Sorbonne. In 1958, Zuckerkandl arranged a meeting with Linus Pauling to inquire about research opportunities in the United States. Pauling was apparently impressed enough to offer Zuckerkandl a post-doctoral fellowship in his lab at Caltech. When he arrived in Pasedena, one of Pauling's graduate students taught Zuckerkandl chemistry techniques that allowed him to compare the structures of hemoglobins from a wide variety of primates and other taxa. Zuckerkandl and Pauling soon began analyzing this information along with amino acid sequence data that was increasingly becoming available. They noticed that the amount of sequence variation in hemoglobins seemed to be directly related presumed evolutionary relationships. Understanding this relationship was to occupy the duo for the duration of Zuckerkandl's 5-year fellowship. Their work ultimately resulted in the formulation of the "molecular clock." This notion was first articulated in a non-peer reviewed festschrift for Albert Szent-Gyorgi and published in its mature form in their 1965 paper, "Evolutionary Divergence and Convergence of Proteins."

In 1965, Zuckerkandl returned to France to become a research director at the Centre National de Recherche Scientifique. There, he founded the Research Center of Macromolecular Biology and directed it for a decade. In the late-1970s, Zuckerkandl returned to the United States to become President of the Linus Pauling Institute. In 1992, he became President of the Institute for Molecular Medicine (the successor to the Pauling Institute).

As exemplified by his work on the molecular clock, Zuckerkandl has played a crucial role in the integration of molecular biological theories and techniques into evolutionary biology. He has also worked hard to provide venues for the products of this marriage. Indeed, in 1971 Zuckerkandl founded the Journal of Molecular Evolution and served as its editor-in-chief until very recently.

Selected Bibliography:

  • Zuckerkandl, E. and Pauling L., "Evolutionary divergence and convergence in proteins," in V. Bryson and H.J. Vogel (eds.), Evolving Genes and Proteins (New York: Academic Press, 1965), pp. 97-166.
  • Zuckerkandl E., and Pauling L., "Molecules as documents of evolutionary history," J Theor Biol (1965), 8(2):357-66.
  • Zuckerkandl E., Derancourt J., and Vogel H., "Mutational trends and random processes in the evolution of informational macromolecules," J Mol Biol (1971), 59(3):473-90.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Some aspects of protein evolution," Biochimie (1972), 54(9):1095-102.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "The appearance of new structures and functions in proteins during evolution," J Mol Evol (1975), 7(1):1-57.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Evolutionary processes and evolutionary noise at the molecular level. I.
    Functional density in proteins," J Mol Evol (1976), 7(3):167-83.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Evolutionary processes and evolutionary noise at the molecular level. II. A selectionist model for random fixations in proteins," J Mol Evol (1976), 7(4):269-311.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Multilocus enzymes, gene regulation, and genetic sufficiency," J Mol Evol (1978), 12(1):57-89.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Molecular evolution as a pathway to man," Z Morphol Anthropol. (1978), 69(2):117-42.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Polite DNA: functional density and functional compatibility in genomes," J Mol Evol (1986), 24(1-2):12-27.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "On the molecular evolutionary clock," J Mol Evol (1987), 26(1-2):34-46.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Random walking. Can large insertions and deletions between genes affect development?," J Mol Evol (1990), 31(3):161-2.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Revisiting junk DNA," J Mol Evol (1992), 34(3):259-71.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Can flies stand in for humans?," J Mol Evol (1993), 37(1):1-4.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Revisiting junk DNA," J Mol Evol (1992), 34(3):259-71.
  • Zuckerkandl E, and Hennig W., "Tracking heterochromatin," Chromosoma (1995), 104(2):75-83.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Junk DNA and sectorial gene repression," Gene (1997), 205(1-2):323-43.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Neutral and Nonneutral Mutations: The Creative Mix-Evolution of Complexity in Gene Interaction Systems," J Mol Evol (1997), 44(4):470.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "The journal and its field: a case of co-evolution," J Mol Evol. (1998), 47(3):236-7.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Sectorial gene repression in the control of development," Gene (1999), 238(1):263-76.
  • Zuckerkandl E., "Social constructionism, a lost cause," J. Mol Evol. (2000), 51(6):517-9.

This page was written by Jay Aronson on December 9, 2001