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PDF 1.88 MB
Pages 439–446
First published 20 July 2015

Epigenetic inheritance speeds up evolution of artificial organisms

Yoram Vadée-le-Brun, Jonathan Rouzaud-Cornabas, and Guillaume Beslon

Abstract (Excerpt)

DNA is not the sole medium by which parents transmit information to their offspring. Epigenetic inheritance, in particular, is based on the partial transmission of the cellular state of the parental cell to its descendants. Although the reality of epigenetic inheritance is now firmly established, whether it has an influence on the long term evolutionary process is still subject to debate.

To address this question, we used RAevol, an in silico experimental evolution platform, and defined 4 scenarios with static or dynamic environments and with or without epigenetic inheritance. Simulations in dynamic environments show that protein inheritance indeed increases the rate of evolution on the long term. But they also show that it impedes evolution in its very first stages. This negative effect can be explained by instabilities generated by the interference between the two inheritance mediums. On the opposite, the long term gain can be explained by protein inheritance reducing the constraints on the genetic regulation network.