The neutralist, the fly and the selectionist

Trends Ecol Evol. 1999 Jan;14(1):35-38. doi: 10.1016/s0169-5347(98)01497-9.


The neutralist-selectionist debate was a staple of molecular evolution and population genetic discourse in the 1970s and 1980s. It waned thereafter, without resolution, as it has taken time to understand what DNA data can reveal about the subject. Recent developments using DNA data from Drosophila melanogaster show that natural selection is pervasive to an extent that is surprising to some former neutralists. It is now known that natural selection acts on synonymous variation, and that linkage effects between selected sites are shaping patterns of variation over large pieces of the genome.