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Genetics. 2009 May;182(1):277-93. doi: 10.1534/genetics.108.099127. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

The evolution of epistasis and its links with genetic robustness, complexity and drift in a phenotypic model of adaptation.

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  • 1Université Paris 7, Faculté de Medecine Denis Diderot 75018, Paris, France.


The epistatic interactions among mutations have a large effect on the evolution of populations. In this article we provide a formalism under which epistatic interactions among pairs of mutations have a distribution whose mean can be modulated. We find that the mean epistasis is correlated to the effect of mutations or genetic robustness, which suggests that such formalism is in good agreement with most in silico models of evolution where the same pattern is observed. We further show that the evolution of epistasis is highly dependant on the intensity of drift and of how complex the organisms are, and that either positive or negative epistasis could be selected for, depending on the balance between the efficiency of selection and the intensity of drift.

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