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Science. 1998 Feb 20;279(5354):1210-3.

Pleiotropy and the preservation of perfection

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  • 1D. Waxman, Centre for the Study of Evolution and Centre for Theoretical Physics, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1 UK. J. R. Peck, Centre for the Study of Evolution and School of Biological Sciences, University of Sussex, Brighton, BN1.


A mathematical model is presented in which a single mutation can affect multiple phenotypic characters, each of which is subject to stabilizing selection. A wide range of mutations is allowed, including ones that produce extremely small phenotypic changes. The analysis shows that, when three or more characters are affected by each mutation, a single optimal genetic sequence may become common. This result provides a hypothesis to explain the low levels of variation and low rates of substitution that are observed at some loci.

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