2020 Zuckerkandl Prize for the Top Paper of the Year!

The Zuckerkandl Prize for Journal of Molecular Evolution has been re-instated in 2019. This is an award for the top paper published in Journal of Molecular Evolution to appear in an issue during the calendar year, as judged by a committee. The award committee consisting of Erich Bornberg-Bauer (University of Muenster, Germany), Joana Carneiro da Silva (University of Maryland School of Medicine, USA), and Ashley Teufel (Santa Fe Institute, USA) was assembled and the entire editorial board was polled for nominations.

The Zuckerkandl award winner for 2020 is:

The Coevolution of Cellularity and Metabolism Following the Origin of Life.” By Takagi at al. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00239-020-09961-1

This study examines the conditions under which cellularity and an embedded metabolism emerge using a novel and simple, but biologically justified simulation scheme. Without aiming to do so, the work is concordant with existing theory on when cellularity is liked to emerge in finding that the lack of environmental availability of compounds that can be processed to generate energy drives the selective advantage for the emergence of cellularity with a corresponding metabolism to generate energy. As such, this is an important contribution to origins of life research. Journal of Molecular Evolution is proud to congratulate the authors on this work.

The runners up paper is listed below and reflects an important advance in molecular evolution.

“Moderate Amounts of Epistasis are Not Evolutionarily Stable in Small Populations.” By Sydykova et al. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00239-020-09942-4

“Evolution of Epistasis: Small Populations Go Their Separate Ways.” McCandlish and Lang (2020) https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00239-020-09950-4

Past Zuckerkandl Prize winners:

Plebanek et al.
Big on Change, Small on Innovation: Evolutionary Consequences of RNA Sequence Duplication https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00239-019-09906-3

Akiko Kashiwagi et al.
Plasticity of Fitness and Diversification Process During an Experimental Molecular Evolution

Gustavo Caetano-Anollés
Evolved RNA Secondary Structure and the Rooting of the Universal Tree of Life

Bryan Grieg Fry
Molecular Evolution and Phylogeny of Elapid Snake Venom Three-Finger Toxins
Isolation of a Neurotoxin (α-colubritoxin) from a Nonvenomous Colubrid: Evidence for Early Origin of Venom in Snakes