Eric Hayden

Associate professor of biology Eric Hayden, along with graduate student co-authors Devin Bendixsen and James Collet, and Bjørn Østman of the Keck Graduate Institute in Claremont, California, recently published an article in PLOS Biology titled “Genotype Network Intersections Promote Evolutionary Innovation.” The introduction to the article reads:

“The mechanisms by which evolution produces new functions have intrigued biologists since the earliest formulations of evolutionary theory. From one perspective, random genetic changes and natural selection for an existing function could prevent novelty if this process were to keep populations near genotypes at the peaks of fitness landscapes and preserve existing forms at the expense of novel mutants. Models to explain the origins of new functions often invoke gene duplication events, which create the redundancy needed to allow either copy to eventually evolve toward a new function. However, the fitness landscape between old and new functions has been difficult to study largely because of the vast number of possible genetic variants for any given gene. As a result, models of innovation differ in the relative importance of neutral drift, environmental changes, the timing and type of selection pressure, and the high-dimensional nature of sequence space. Our understanding of innovations will benefit from direct observations of the evolution of new structures and functions.”

To read the article in its entirety, use the following link:

https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000300