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Research Article

Natural Selection Fails to Optimize Mutation Rates for Long-Term Adaptation on Rugged Fitness Landscapes

  • Jeff Clune mail,

    jclune@msu.edu

    Affiliations: Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, United States of America, Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Universidad Politecnica de València, València, Spain

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  • Dusan Misevic,

    Affiliation: Institute of Integrative Biology, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

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  • Charles Ofria,

    Affiliation: Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, United States of America

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  • Richard E. Lenski,

    Affiliation: Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, United States of America

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  • Santiago F. Elena,

    Affiliations: Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Universidad Politecnica de València, València, Spain, The Santa Fe Institute, Santa Fe, New Mexico, United States of America

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  • Rafael Sanjuán

    Affiliations: Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas, Universidad Politecnica de València, València, Spain, Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia Evolutiva, Universitat de València, València, Spain

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  • Published: September 26, 2008
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000187

Reader Comments (4)

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Is fitness properly measured in this analysis?

Posted by JonathanBetzBrown on 26 Sep 2008 at 22:46 GMT

This analysis starts from the assumption that evolution "should" cause an organism to achieve optimal fitness, defined as multplying as rapidly as possible. Not only is this definition invalid from the standpoint of the biome as a whole, it beams down from a perspective of omniscience that is not obviously appropriate to the analysis of evolution, which is neither a teleologic nor a forward-seeing process.


RE: Is fitness properly measured in this analysis?

jclune replied to JonathanBetzBrown on 28 Sep 2008 at 18:31 GMT

JonathanBetzBrown-

Thank you for reading our article and commenting on it.

I agree with you that evolution is not a teleological process. We do not make such an assumption in the paper. We merely inquire whether natural selection tends to find the mutation rate that maximizes long-term adaptation. Given that our research demonstrates that natural selection fails to find the mutation rate that maximizes long-term adaptation, the paper actually supports the notion that evolution is not, to use your words, a 'forward-seeing process.'

I apologize, but I do not understand your concerns regarding the fitness measurement. If you could explain them at greater length perhaps I could answer your questions. The Avida digital evolution platform, and its concept of fitness, has been used in numerous articles in top journals. Please see references 25-34 in the manuscript for examples. I mention these previous publications to let readers know that the validity of the system has been repeatedly vetted by the most strict peer review processes.

Thank you again for your interest in our work.
Jeff Clune