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The molecular origins of evolutionary innovations


Wagner, A (2011). The molecular origins of evolutionary innovations. Trends in Genetics, 27(10):397-410.

Abstract

The history of life is a history of evolutionary innovations, qualitatively new phenotypic traits that endow their bearers with new, often game-changing abilities. We know many individual examples of innovations and their natural history, but we know little about the fundamental principles of phenotypic variability that permit new phenotypes to arise. Most phenotypic innovations result from changes in three classes of systems: metabolic networks, regulatory circuits, and macromolecules. I here highlight two important features that these classes of systems share. The first is the ubiquity of vast genotype networks - connected sets of genotypes with the same phenotype. The second is the great phenotypic diversity of small neighborhoods around different genotypes in genotype space. I here explain that both features are essential for the phenotypic variability that can bring forth qualitatively new phenotypes. Both features emerge from a common cause, the robustness of phenotypes to perturbations, whose origins are linked to life in changing environments.

Abstract

The history of life is a history of evolutionary innovations, qualitatively new phenotypic traits that endow their bearers with new, often game-changing abilities. We know many individual examples of innovations and their natural history, but we know little about the fundamental principles of phenotypic variability that permit new phenotypes to arise. Most phenotypic innovations result from changes in three classes of systems: metabolic networks, regulatory circuits, and macromolecules. I here highlight two important features that these classes of systems share. The first is the ubiquity of vast genotype networks - connected sets of genotypes with the same phenotype. The second is the great phenotypic diversity of small neighborhoods around different genotypes in genotype space. I here explain that both features are essential for the phenotypic variability that can bring forth qualitatively new phenotypes. Both features emerge from a common cause, the robustness of phenotypes to perturbations, whose origins are linked to life in changing environments.

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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:2011
Deposited On:12 Mar 2012 13:31
Last Modified:07 Dec 2017 12:55
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0168-9525
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tig.2011.06.002
PubMed ID:21872964

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