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The role of robustness in phenotypic adaptation and innovation


Wagner, Andreas (2012). The role of robustness in phenotypic adaptation and innovation. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 279(1732):1249-1258.

Abstract

Phenotypes that vary in response to DNA mutations are essential for evolutionary adaptation and innovation. Therefore, it seems that robustness, a lack of phenotypic variability, must hinder adaptation. The main purpose of this review is to show why this is not necessarily correct. There are two reasons. The first is that robustness causes the existence of genotype networks--large connected sets of genotypes with the same phenotype. I discuss why genotype networks facilitate phenotypic variability. The second reason emerges from the evolutionary dynamics of evolving populations on genotype networks. I discuss how these dynamics can render highly robust phenotypes more variable, using examples from protein and RNA macromolecules. In addition, robustness can help avoid an important evolutionary conflict between the interests of individuals and populations-a conflict that can impede evolutionary adaptation.

Phenotypes that vary in response to DNA mutations are essential for evolutionary adaptation and innovation. Therefore, it seems that robustness, a lack of phenotypic variability, must hinder adaptation. The main purpose of this review is to show why this is not necessarily correct. There are two reasons. The first is that robustness causes the existence of genotype networks--large connected sets of genotypes with the same phenotype. I discuss why genotype networks facilitate phenotypic variability. The second reason emerges from the evolutionary dynamics of evolving populations on genotype networks. I discuss how these dynamics can render highly robust phenotypes more variable, using examples from protein and RNA macromolecules. In addition, robustness can help avoid an important evolutionary conflict between the interests of individuals and populations-a conflict that can impede evolutionary adaptation.

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40 citations in Web of Science®
39 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:12 May 2012
Deposited On:11 Feb 2013 12:04
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:23
Publisher:Royal Society Publishing
ISSN:0962-8452
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2011.2293
PubMed ID:22217723
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-71716

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