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Evolution of digital organisms at high mutation rates leads to survival of the flattest

Wilke, Claus O. and Wang, Jia Lan and Ofria, Charles and Lenski, Richard E. and Adami, Christoph (2001) Evolution of digital organisms at high mutation rates leads to survival of the flattest. Nature, 412 (6844). pp. 331-333. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/35085569.

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Darwinian evolution favours genotypes with high replication rates, a process called 'survival of the fittest'. However, knowing the replication rate of each individual genotype may not suffice to predict the eventual survivor, even in an asexual population. According to quasi-species theory, selection favours the cloud of genotypes, interconnected by mutation, whose average replication rate is highest. Here we confirm this prediction using digital organisms that self-replicate, mutate and evolve. Forty pairs of populations were derived from 40 different ancestors in identical selective environments, except that one of each pair experienced a 4-fold higher mutation rate. In 12 cases, the dominant genotype that evolved at the lower mutation rate achieved a replication rate >1.5-fold faster than its counterpart. We allowed each of these disparate pairs to compete across a range of mutation rates. In each case, as mutation rate was increased, the outcome of competition switched to favour the genotype with the lower replication rate. These genotypes, although they occupied lower fitness peaks, were located in flatter regions of the fitness surface and were therefore more robust with respect to mutations.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ItemSupplementary Information ReadCube access
Wilke, Claus O.0000-0002-7470-9261
Ofria, Charles0000-0003-2924-1732
Lenski, Richard E.0000-0002-1064-8375
Adami, Christoph0000-0002-2915-9504
Additional Information:© 2001 Macmillan Magazines Ltd. Received 13 December 2000; Accepted 7 June 2001. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation. Part of this work as carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. J.L.W. acknowledges the support of an Axline SURF fellowship.
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Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:6844
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20150331-082348880
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:56230
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:31 Mar 2015 16:04
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 20:56

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