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Andreas Wagner, University of Zurich - On the relationship between robustness and evolutionary innovation

Semovi, Seminar at CNRS Amphiteatre, campus de la Doua Villeurbanne, Wednesday, February 10, 2010, 2-5 PM

Mutational robustness and evolvability, a system’s ability to produce heritable phenotypic variation, harbour a paradoxical tension. On one hand, high robustness implies low production of heritable phenotypic variation. On the other hand, both experimental and computational analyses of neutral networks indicate that robustness enhances evolvability. I here resolve this tension using a molecular study system. To resolve the tension, one must distinguish between robustness of a genotype and a phenotype. I confirm that genotype (sequence) robustness and evolvability share an antagonistic relationship. In stark contrast, phenotype (structure) robustness promotes structure evolvability. A consequence is that finite populations of sequences with a robust phenotype can access large amounts of phenotypic variation while spreading through a neutral network. Population-level processes and phenotypes rather than individual sequences are key to understand the relationship between robustness and evolvability. Other talks will be given by Marie Delattre and Stephane Genieys.

For more information, see the announcement on the Semovi web site