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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Feb 13;104(7):2277-82. Epub 2007 Feb 7.

Adaptations to fluctuating selection in Drosophila.

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  • 1Institut für Theoretische Physik, Universität zu Köln, Zülpicherstrasse 77, 50937 Köln, Germany.


Time-dependent selection causes the adaptive evolution of new phenotypes, and this dynamics can be traced in genomic data. We have analyzed polymorphisms and substitutions in Drosophila, using a more sensitive inference method for adaptations than the standard population-genetic tests. We find evidence that selection itself is strongly time-dependent, with changes occurring at nearly the rate of neutral evolution. At the same time, higher than previously estimated levels of selection make adaptive responses by a factor 10-100 faster than the pace of selection changes, ensuring that adaptations are an efficient mode of evolution under time-dependent selection. The rate of selection changes is faster in noncoding DNA, i.e., the inference of functional elements can less be based on sequence conservation than for proteins. Our results suggest that selection acts not only as a constraint but as a major driving force of genomic change.

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