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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jul 5;102(27):9541-6. Epub 2005 Jun 24.

The application of statistical physics to evolutionary biology.

Author information

1
Center for the Study of Rationality, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Givat Ram, Jerusalem 91904, Israel. gsella@math.huji.ac.il

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Oct 4;102(40):14475.

Abstract

A number of fundamental mathematical models of the evolutionary process exhibit dynamics that can be difficult to understand analytically. Here we show that a precise mathematical analogy can be drawn between certain evolutionary and thermodynamic systems, allowing application of the powerful machinery of statistical physics to analysis of a family of evolutionary models. Analytical results that follow directly from this approach include the steady-state distribution of fixed genotypes and the load in finite populations. The analogy with statistical physics also reveals that, contrary to a basic tenet of the nearly neutral theory of molecular evolution, the frequencies of adaptive and deleterious substitutions at steady state are equal. Finally, just as the free energy function quantitatively characterizes the balance between energy and entropy, a free fitness function provides an analytical expression for the balance between natural selection and stochastic drift.

PMID:
15980155
PMCID:
PMC1172247
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0501865102
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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