Evolvability is the degree to which a biological system can evolve into a diversity of adaptive solutions to future environments. Two organisms with the same phenotype and fitness in a current environment may differ in their evolvability, owing to differences in the cryptic evolutionary potential of their genomes.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research | | open

    In asexual populations selection at different genomic loci can interfere with each other. Here, using a biophysical model of molecular evolution the authors show that interference results in long-term degradation of molecular function, an effect that strongly depends on genome size.

    • Torsten Held
    • , Daniel Klemmer
    •  & Michael Lässig
  • Research | | open

    The mechanisms that accommodate variable external dependencies in evolution are not clear. Here, the authors show that switches between external and internal metabolic controls of carotenoid-producing networks in birds are linked to shifts in evolutionary rates, with internalization of control resulting in bursts of evolutionary diversification.

    • Alexander V. Badyaev
    • , Alexander B. Posner
    • , Erin S. Morrison
    •  & Dawn M. Higginson
  • Research | | open

    The pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa undergoes complex trait adaptation within cystic fibrosis patients. Here, Bartell, Sommer, and colleagues use statistical modeling of longitudinal isolates to characterize the joint genetic and phenotypic evolutionary trajectories of P. aeruginosa within hosts.

    • Jennifer A. Bartell
    • , Lea M. Sommer
    • , Janus A. J. Haagensen
    • , Anne Loch
    • , Rocio Espinosa
    • , Søren Molin
    •  & Helle Krogh Johansen
  • Research | | open

    The catalytic efficiency of many enzymes is lower than the theoretical maximum. Here, the authors combine genome-scale metabolic modeling with population genetics models to simulate enzyme evolution, and find that strong epistasis limits turnover numbers due to diminishing returns of fitness gains.

    • David Heckmann
    • , Daniel C. Zielinski
    •  & Bernhard O. Palsson
  • Reviews |

    In this article, Payne and Wagner discuss how recent experimental studies are complementing theoretical work to enhance our understanding of the evolvability of diverse biological systems. They highlight phenotypic heterogeneity, robustness and adaptive landscape topography as causes of evolvability, and they additionally discuss evidence for whether evolvability itself can evolve.

    • Joshua L. Payne
    •  & Andreas Wagner