Peter Schuster

Paper #: 96-05-026

Information in biology has a quality that distinguishes it from information in chemistry and physics. It comes in encoded form and it is processed in a way that is closely related to information technology and computer science. Biological information is essentially stored in genotypes and transferred to future generations through inheritance, and less directly through epigenetic processes. Cellular metabolism is interpreted straightforwardly as information processing. Information is closely related to complexity: more complex things require more information to build and operate. Any comprehensive understanding of biological phenomena requires an interpretation in evolutionary terms, as Theodosius Dobzhansky [4] pointed out in his famous phrase: “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution." Understanding the complexity of biological systems is thus always incomplete if nothing is known about its origin.