Present address: Laboratorio Nacional de Genómica para la Biodiversidad, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del IPN, Irapuato, Guanajuato, México.
Phenotypic robustness can increase phenotypic variability after nongenetic perturbations in gene regulatory circuits
Article first published online: 28 MAR 2011
© 2011 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2011 European Society For Evolutionary Biology
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume 24, Issue 6, pages 1284–1297, June 2011
How to Cite
ESPINOSA-SOTO, C., MARTIN, O. C. and WAGNER, A. (2011), Phenotypic robustness can increase phenotypic variability after nongenetic perturbations in gene regulatory circuits. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24: 1284–1297. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02261.x
- Issue published online: 6 MAY 2011
- Article first published online: 28 MAR 2011
- Received 16 November 2010; revised 21 February 2011; accepted 23 February 2011
- phenotypic plasticity;
Nongenetic perturbations, such as environmental change or developmental noise, can induce novel phenotypes. If an induced phenotype appears recurrently and confers a fitness advantage, selection may promote its genetic stabilization. Nongenetic perturbations can thus initiate evolutionary innovation. Genetic variation that is not usually phenotypically visible may play an important role in this process. Populations under stabilizing selection on a phenotype that is robust to mutations can accumulate such variation. After nongenetic perturbations, this variation can produce new phenotypes. We here study the relationship between a phenotype's mutational robustness and a population's potential to generate novel phenotypic variation. To this end, we use a well-studied model of transcriptional regulation circuits that are important in many evolutionary innovations. We find that phenotypic robustness promotes phenotypic variability in response to nongenetic perturbations, but not in response to mutation. Our work suggests that nongenetic perturbations may initiate innovation more frequently in mutationally robust gene expression traits.