Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study Questions 'Cost Of Complexity' In Evolution

Date:
April 1, 2008
Source:
Yale University
Summary:
Higher organisms do not have a "cost of complexity" -- or slowdown in the evolution of complex traits -- according to a new article in Nature. Biologists have long puzzled over the relationship between evolution of complex traits and the randomness of mutations in genes. Some have proposed that a "cost of complexity" makes it more difficult to evolve a complicated trait by random mutations, because effects of beneficial mutations are diluted.

A new study, in mice, showed that most mutations only do affect a few traits.
Credit: iStockphoto/Emilia Stasiak

Higher organisms do not have a "cost of complexity" -- or slowdown in the evolution of complex traits -- according to a report by researchers at Yale and Washington University in Nature.

Biologists have long puzzled over the relationship between evolution of complex traits and the randomness of mutations in genes. Some have proposed that a "cost of complexity" makes it more difficult to evolve a complicated trait by random mutations, because effects of beneficial mutations are diluted.

"While a mutation in a single gene can have effects on multiple traits, even as diverse as the structures of brain, kneecap and genitalia, we wondered how often random mutation would affect many traits" said lead author Gunter Wagner, professor and chair of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale. The phenomenon wherein mutation in a single gene can have effects on multiple traits is known as pleiotropy.

This study showed that most mutations only do affect few traits. Further, the effect of an individual mutation is not dampened because of its effects on other traits.

Observing 70 skeletal characteristics in the mouse, the researchers identified total of 102 genomic regions that affect the skeleton. They concluded that substitution in each genome segment affected a relatively small subset of characteristics and that the effect on each characteristic increased with the total number of traits affected.

"You wouldn't expect to make a lot of random adjustments -- at the same time -- to tune up a car," said Wagner. "Similarly, it appears that tuning up a complex trait in a living organism is well coordinated and the effects of pleiotropy are more focused than we thought."

Other authors on the paper are Jane P. Kenney-Hunt, Mihaela Pavlicev, Joel R. Peck, David Waxman and James M. Cheverud. Funding for the research was from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Humboldt Foundation, the John Templeton Foundation, the Austrian Science Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust.

Journal reference: Nature 452: (March 27, 2008) doi:10.1038/nature06756


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Yale University. "Study Questions 'Cost Of Complexity' In Evolution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080331172503.htm>.
Yale University. (2008, April 1). Study Questions 'Cost Of Complexity' In Evolution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080331172503.htm
Yale University. "Study Questions 'Cost Of Complexity' In Evolution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080331172503.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Turns Out Jack The Ripper's True Identity Is Still Unknown

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) After testing DNA from a shawl found near one of Jack the Ripper's victims, a scientist said he'd identified the killer. New reports refute the claim. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Fish Fossil Shows First-Ever Sex Was Done Side By Side

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A 380-million-year-old fish may be the first creature to have copulative sex - and it was side by side with arms linked, like square dancers. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

As Sweden Hunts For Sub, "Cold War" Comparisons Flourish

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) With Sweden on the look-out for a suspected Russian sub, a lot of people are talking about the Cold War, but is it an apt comparison? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

So, Kangaroos Didn't Always Hop

Newsy (Oct. 16, 2014) Researchers believe an extinct kangaroo species weighed 500 pounds or more and couldn't hop. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins