Cryptic genetic variation can make "irreducible complexity" a common mode of adaptation in sexual populations

M. Trotter, D. Weissman, G. Peterson, K. Peck, J. Masel, Evolution 68 (2014) 3357–3367.


Journal Article | Published | English
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Abstract
The existence of complex (multiple-step) genetic adaptations that are "irreducible" (i.e., all partial combinations are less fit than the original genotype) is one of the longest standing problems in evolutionary biology. In standard genetics parlance, these adaptations require the crossing of a wide adaptive valley of deleterious intermediate stages. Here, we demonstrate, using a simple model, that evolution can cross wide valleys to produce "irreducibly complex" adaptations by making use of previously cryptic mutations. When revealed by an evolutionary capacitor, previously cryptic mutants have higher initial frequencies than do new mutations, bringing them closer to a valley-crossing saddle in allele frequency space. Moreover, simple combinatorics implies an enormous number of candidate combinations exist within available cryptic genetic variation. We model the dynamics of crossing of a wide adaptive valley after a capacitance event using both numerical simulations and analytical approximations. Although individual valley crossing events become less likely as valleys widen, by taking the combinatorics of genotype space into account, we see that revealing cryptic variation can cause the frequent evolution of complex adaptations.
Publishing Year
Date Published
2014-12-01
Journal Title
Evolution
Acknowledgement
Funded by National Institutes of Health. Grant Numbers: R01GM076041, R01GM104040 Simons Foundation
Volume
68
Issue
12
Page
3357 - 3367
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Cite this

Trotter M, Weissman D, Peterson G, Peck K, Masel J. Cryptic genetic variation can make "irreducible complexity" a common mode of adaptation in sexual populations. Evolution. 2014;68(12):3357-3367. doi:10.1111/evo.12517
Trotter, M., Weissman, D., Peterson, G., Peck, K., & Masel, J. (2014). Cryptic genetic variation can make "irreducible complexity" a common mode of adaptation in sexual populations. Evolution, 68(12), 3357–3367. https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.12517
Trotter, Meredith, Daniel Weissman, Grant Peterson, Kayla Peck, and Joanna Masel. “Cryptic Genetic Variation Can Make "Irreducible Complexity" a Common Mode of Adaptation in Sexual Populations.” Evolution 68, no. 12 (2014): 3357–67. https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.12517.
M. Trotter, D. Weissman, G. Peterson, K. Peck, and J. Masel, “Cryptic genetic variation can make "irreducible complexity" a common mode of adaptation in sexual populations,” Evolution, vol. 68, no. 12, pp. 3357–3367, 2014.
Trotter M, Weissman D, Peterson G, Peck K, Masel J. 2014. Cryptic genetic variation can make "irreducible complexity" a common mode of adaptation in sexual populations. Evolution. 68(12), 3357–3367.
Trotter, Meredith, et al. “Cryptic Genetic Variation Can Make "Irreducible Complexity" a Common Mode of Adaptation in Sexual Populations.” Evolution, vol. 68, no. 12, Wiley-Blackwell, 2014, pp. 3357–67, doi:10.1111/evo.12517.

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