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Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2006 Dec;16(6):618-23. Epub 2006 Oct 19.

Fitness effects of beneficial mutations: the mutational landscape model in experimental evolution.

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Institute for Evolutionary Biology, King's Buildings, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, EH9 3JT, UK. <>


The mutational landscape model is a theoretical model describing sequence evolution in natural populations. However, recent experimental work has begun to test its predictions in laboratory populations of microbes. Several of these studies have focused on testing the prediction that the effects of beneficial mutations should be roughly exponentially distributed. The prediction appears to be borne out by most of these studies, at least qualitatively. Another study showed that a modified version of the model was able to predict, with reasonable accuracy, which of a ranked set of beneficial alleles will be fixed next. Although it remains to be seen whether the mutational landscape model adequately describes adaptation in organisms other than microbes, together these studies suggest that adaptive evolution has surprisingly general properties that can be successfully captured by theoretical models.

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