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Robustness and evolution: concepts, insights and challenges from a developmental model system


Félix, M A; Wagner, A (2008). Robustness and evolution: concepts, insights and challenges from a developmental model system. Heredity, 100(2):132-140.

Abstract

Robustness, the persistence of an organismal trait under perturbations, is a ubiquitous property of complex living systems. We here discuss key concepts related to robustness with examples from vulva development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We emphasize the need to be clear about the perturbations a trait is (or is not) robust to. We discuss two prominent mechanistic causes of robustness, namely redundancy and distributed robustness. We also discuss possible evolutionary causes of robustness, one of which does not involve natural selection. To better understand robustness is of paramount importance for understanding organismal evolution. Part of the reason is that highly robust systems can accumulate cryptic variation that can serve as a source of new adaptations and evolutionary innovations. We point to some key challenges in improving our understanding of robustness.

Abstract

Robustness, the persistence of an organismal trait under perturbations, is a ubiquitous property of complex living systems. We here discuss key concepts related to robustness with examples from vulva development in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. We emphasize the need to be clear about the perturbations a trait is (or is not) robust to. We discuss two prominent mechanistic causes of robustness, namely redundancy and distributed robustness. We also discuss possible evolutionary causes of robustness, one of which does not involve natural selection. To better understand robustness is of paramount importance for understanding organismal evolution. Part of the reason is that highly robust systems can accumulate cryptic variation that can serve as a source of new adaptations and evolutionary innovations. We point to some key challenges in improving our understanding of robustness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, further contribution
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Biochemistry
07 Faculty of Science > Department of Biochemistry
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:17 Sep 2008 12:48
Last Modified:06 Dec 2017 14:23
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:0018-067X
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.hdy.6800915
PubMed ID:17167519

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