The Functional Synthesis in Molecular Evolution
The functional synthesis emerged in the 1990s as a means to rigorously test adaptive hypotheses at the molecular level. Research in the functional synthesis uses comparative sequence analyses to place adaptive events in their historical contexts, to identify mutations that arose during these critical periods, and to locate sites retaining the putative signatures of selection. Molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics and experimental evolution are then used to test these inferences decisively. The functional synthesis effectively fuses classic comparative approaches in evolutionary biology with the modern experimental sciences of physics and chemistry to provide a framework for exploring mechanisms fundamental to adaptive evolution.