Front Genet. 2012; 3: 246.
Published online 2012 November 26. Prepublished online 2012 August 31. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2012.00246
Replaying the Tape of Life: Quantification of the Predictability of Evolution
The question whether adaptation follows a deterministic route largely prescribed by the environment or can proceed along a large number of alternative trajectories has engaged extensive research over the recent years. Experimental evolution studies enabled by advances in high throughput techniques for genome sequencing and manipulation, along with increasingly detailed mathematical modeling of fitness landscapes, are beginning to allow quantitative exploration of the repeatability of evolutionary trajectories. It is becoming clear that evolutionary trajectories in static correlated fitness landscapes are substantially non-random but the relative contributions of determinism and stochasticity in the evolution of specific phenotypes strongly depend on the specific conditions, particularly the magnitude of the selective pressure and the number of available beneficial mutations.
Keywords: evolutionary trajectory, predictability of evolution, fitness landscape, divergence of trajectories