Giants in History: Motoo Kimura

The biologist who used mathematics to explain evolution 

Motoo Kimura (13 November 1924 - 13 November 1994)


Motoo Kimura (13 November 1924 – 13 November 1994) was a Japanese theoretical population geneticist who is best remembered for developing the neutral theory of molecular evolution. Using diffusion equations to calculate the probability of beneficial, harmful or neutral genetic changes, he combined population genetics with molecular biology to explain that most mutations are neutral and spread through populations by chance. As a young student, Kimura was interested in plants and excelled in Mathematics. While studying the chromosome structure of lilies, Kimura connected his interests in botany and mathematics, becoming one of few biologists who excelled in both fields.