May 5, 2016

Separating spandrels from phenotypic targets of selection in adaptive molecular evolution

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Stevan A SpringerAlexandre V Morozov


There are many examples of adaptive molecular evolution in natural populations, but there is no existing method to verify which phenotypic changes were directly targeted by selection. The problem is that correlations between traits make it difficult to distinguish between direct and indirect selection. A phenotype is a direct target of selection when that trait in particular was shaped by selection to better perform a function. An indirect target of selection, also known as an evolutionary spandrel, is a phenotype that changes only because it is correlated with another trait under direct selection. Studies that mutate genes and examine the phenotypic consequences are increasingly common, and these experiments could estimate the mutational accessibility of the phenotypic changes that arise during an instance of adaptive molecular evolution. Under indirect selection, we expect phenotypes to evolve toward states that are more accessible by mutation. Deviation from this null expectation (evolution toward a phenotypic state rarely produced by mutation) would be compelling evidence of adaptation, and could be used to distinguish direct selection from indirect selection on correlated traits. To be practical, this molecular test of ada...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Laboratory Procedures
Empirical Study
PRELI protein, mouse
Phenotype Determination
Mutation Abnormality

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