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Evolution can select for evolvability, Penn biologists find
Date:11/14/2013

system were as much as eight times more common than would be expected by chance alone and more common than mutations that affected other parts of the VlsE protein. In addition, the rate of mutation at the unexpressed cassettes was greater than that at other locations in the bacterial genome.

Taken together, the results provide direct evidence that evolvability was the target of natural selection. The researchers note, however, that this doesn't mean that "natural selection for evolvability" is necessarily a common trait across all living things.

"It would be incredibly difficult to demonstrate this for free-living eukaryotic organisms, like humans," Brisson said. "But we can now say that evolvability can be the object of selection in the face of environmental pressure."


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Contact: Katherine Unger Baillie
kbaillie@upenn.edu
215-898-9194
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert

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