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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Aug 10;101(32):11531-6. Epub 2004 Aug 2.

Evolvability is a selectable trait.

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  • 1Department of Bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, TX 77005-1892, USA.

Abstract

Concomitant with the evolution of biological diversity must have been the evolution of mechanisms that facilitate evolution, because of the essentially infinite complexity of protein sequence space. We describe how evolvability can be an object of Darwinian selection, emphasizing the collective nature of the process. We quantify our theory with computer simulations of protein evolution. These simulations demonstrate that rapid or dramatic environmental change leads to selection for greater evolvability. The selective pressure for large-scale genetic moves such as DNA exchange becomes increasingly strong as the environmental conditions become more uncertain. Our results demonstrate that evolvability is a selectable trait and allow for the explanation of a large body of experimental results.

PMID:
15289608
PMCID:
PMC511006
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0404656101
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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