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Pages 43-44
First published 30 July 2014

Stress-induced variation can cause average mutation and recombination rates to be positively correlated with fitness

Daniel B. Weissman

Abstract (Excerpt)

Observational and experimental studies have consistently demonstrated that individuals from a wide variety of species exhibit "stress-induced variation" (SIV) – higher rates of mutation and recombination in stressful conditions (see references in Hadany and Beker (2003); Hadany and Otto (2009)). This has been seen as a form of fitness-associated variation (FAV), in which an individual’s mutation and recombination rates are functions of its fitness (Beker and Hadany, 2002). Theoretical studies have shown that on a variety of biologically plausible fitness landscapes, genes coding for negative associations between fitness and mutation and recombination rates ("negative FAV") are favored by evolution (Redfield, 1988; Gessler and Xu, 2000; Hadany and Beker, 2003; Hadany and Otto, 2007, 2009; Ram and Hadany, 2012); similar effects have also been found for genetic algorithms (Srinivas and Patnaik, 1994; Beker and Hadany, 2002; Rokhlenko and Wexler, 2009), although there are counterexamples (Wexler and Rokhlenko, 2007). Thus, the empirical and theoretical results seem to be consistent: low-fitness individuals tend to have higher rates of variation, and alleles which code for this effect are expected to be favored by evolution.