Genomic mutation rates that neutralize adaptive evolution and natural selection

Genomic mutation rates that neutralize adaptive evolution and natural selection

Philip Gerrish, Alexandre Colato, Paul Sniegowski
(Submitted on 5 Nov 2012)

When mutation rates are low, natural selection remains effective, and increasing the mutation rate can give rise to an increase in adaptation rate. When mutation rates are high to begin with, however, increasing the mutation rate may have a detrimental effect because of the overwhelming presence of deleterious mutations. Indeed, if mutation rates are high enough: 1) adaptation rate can become negative despite the continued availability of adaptive and/or compensatory mutations, or 2) natural selection may be disabled because adaptive and/or compensatory mutations — whether established or newly-arising — are eroded by excessive mutation and decline in frequency. We apply these two criteria to a standard model of asexual adaptive evolution and derive mathematical expressions — some new, some old in new guise — delineating the mutation rates under which either adaptive evolution or natural selection is neutralized. The expressions are simple and require no \emph{a priori} knowledge of organism- and/or environment-specific parameters. Our discussion connects these results to each other and to previous theory, showing convergence or equivalence of the different results in most cases.

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