Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was based on studies of biology at the species level. In the time since his death, studies at the molecular level have confirmed his ideas about the kinship of all life on Earth and have provided a wealth of detail about the evolutionary relationships between different species and a deeper understanding of the finer workings of natural selection. We now have a wealth of data, including the genome sequences of a wide range of organisms, an even larger number of protein sequences, a significant knowledge of the three-dimensional structures of proteins, DNA and other biological molecules, and a huge body of information about the operation of these molecules as systems in the molecular machinery of all living things. This issue of Biochemical Society Transactions contains papers from oral presentations given at a Biochemical Society Focused Meeting to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, held on 26–27 January 2009 at the Wellcome Trust Conference Centre, Cambridge. The talks reported on some of the insights into evolution which have been obtained from the study of protein sequences, structures and systems.

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