Prospects & Overviews
How epigenetic mutations can affect genetic evolution: Model and mechanism
Article first published online: 12 APR 2013
© 2013 WILEY Periodicals, Inc.
Volume 35, Issue 6, pages 571–578, June 2013
How to Cite
Klironomos, F. D., Berg, J. and Collins, S. (2013), How epigenetic mutations can affect genetic evolution: Model and mechanism. Bioessays, 35: 571–578. doi: 10.1002/bies.201200169
- Issue published online: 15 MAY 2013
- Article first published online: 12 APR 2013
- adaptive walks;
- non-genetic inheritance
We hypothesize that heritable epigenetic changes can affect rates of fitness increase as well as patterns of genotypic and phenotypic change during adaptation. In particular, we suggest that when natural selection acts on pure epigenetic variation in addition to genetic variation, populations adapt faster, and adaptive phenotypes can arise before any genetic changes. This may make it difficult to reconcile the timing of adaptive events detected using conventional population genetics tools based on DNA sequence data with environmental drivers of adaptation, such as changes in climate. Epigenetic modifications are frequently associated with somatic cell differentiation, but recently epigenetic changes have been found that can be transmitted over many generations. Here, we show how the interplay of these heritable epigenetic changes with genetic changes can affect adaptive evolution, and how epigenetic changes affect the signature of selection in the genetic record.