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Phenotypic robustness can increase phenotypic variability after nongenetic perturbations in gene regulatory circuits


Espinosa-Soto, C; Martin, O C; Wagner, A (2011). Phenotypic robustness can increase phenotypic variability after nongenetic perturbations in gene regulatory circuits. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24(6):1284-1297.

Abstract

Nongenetic perturbations, such as environmental change or developmental noise, can induce novel phenotypes. If an induced phenotype appears recurrently and confers a fitness advantage, selection may promote its genetic stabilization. Nongenetic perturbations can thus initiate evolutionary innovation. Genetic variation that is not usually phenotypically visible may play an important role in this process. Populations under stabilizing selection on a phenotype that is robust to mutations can accumulate such variation. After nongenetic perturbations, this variation can produce new phenotypes. We here study the relationship between a phenotype's mutational robustness and a population's potential to generate novel phenotypic variation. To this end, we use a well-studied model of transcriptional regulation circuits that are important in many evolutionary innovations. We find that phenotypic robustness promotes phenotypic variability in response to nongenetic perturbations, but not in response to mutation. Our work suggests that nongenetic perturbations may initiate innovation more frequently in mutationally robust gene expression traits.

Abstract

Nongenetic perturbations, such as environmental change or developmental noise, can induce novel phenotypes. If an induced phenotype appears recurrently and confers a fitness advantage, selection may promote its genetic stabilization. Nongenetic perturbations can thus initiate evolutionary innovation. Genetic variation that is not usually phenotypically visible may play an important role in this process. Populations under stabilizing selection on a phenotype that is robust to mutations can accumulate such variation. After nongenetic perturbations, this variation can produce new phenotypes. We here study the relationship between a phenotype's mutational robustness and a population's potential to generate novel phenotypic variation. To this end, we use a well-studied model of transcriptional regulation circuits that are important in many evolutionary innovations. We find that phenotypic robustness promotes phenotypic variability in response to nongenetic perturbations, but not in response to mutation. Our work suggests that nongenetic perturbations may initiate innovation more frequently in mutationally robust gene expression traits.

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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)
Date:28 March 2011
Deposited On:12 Mar 2012 12:18
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:39
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1010-061X
Additional Information:The definitive version is available at www.blackwell-synergy.com.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02261.x
PubMed ID:21443645

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