Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 413513
Title Evolutionary accessibility of mutational pathways
Author(s) Franke, J.; Klozer, A.; Visser, J.A.G.M. de; Krug, J.
Source PLoS Computational Biology 7 (2011)8. - ISSN 1553-734X - 9 p.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002134
Department(s) Laboratory of Genetics
PE&RC
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Keyword(s) empirical fitness landscapes - beneficial mutations - nk model - epistasis - population - adaptation - selection - paths - sex
Abstract Functional effects of different mutations are known to combine to the total effect in highly nontrivial ways. For the trait under evolutionary selection (‘fitness’), measured values over all possible combinations of a set of mutations yield a fitness landscape that determines which mutational states can be reached from a given initial genotype. Understanding the accessibility properties of fitness landscapes is conceptually important in answering questions about the predictability and repeatability of evolutionary adaptation. Here we theoretically investigate accessibility of the globally optimal state on a wide variety of model landscapes, including landscapes with tunable ruggedness as well as neutral ‘holey’ landscapes. We define a mutational pathway to be accessible if it contains the minimal number of mutations required to reach the target genotype, and if fitness increases in each mutational step. Under this definition accessibility is high, in the sense that at least one accessible pathway exists with a substantial probability that approaches unity as the dimensionality of the fitness landscape (set by the number of mutational loci) becomes large. At the same time the number of alternative accessible pathways grows without bounds. We test the model predictions against an empirical 8-locus fitness landscape obtained for the filamentous fungus Aspergillus niger. By analyzing subgraphs of the full landscape containing different subsets of mutations, we are able to probe the mutational distance scale in the empirical data. The predicted effect of high accessibility is supported by the empirical data and is very robust, which we argue reflects the generic topology of sequence spaces. Together with the restrictive assumptions that lie in our definition of accessibility, this implies that the globally optimal configuration should be accessible to genome wide evolution, but the repeatability of evolutionary trajectories is limited owing to the presence of a large number of alternative mutational pathways
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