The Genetic Theory of Adaptation: A Brief History

Nat Rev Genet. 2005 Feb;6(2):119-27. doi: 10.1038/nrg1523.

Abstract

Theoretical studies of adaptation have exploded over the past decade. This work has been inspired by recent, surprising findings in the experimental study of adaptation. For example, morphological evolution sometimes involves a modest number of genetic changes, with some individual changes having a large effect on the phenotype or fitness. Here I survey the history of adaptation theory, focusing on the rise and fall of various views over the past century and the reasons for the slow development of a mature theory of adaptation. I also discuss the challenges that face contemporary theories of adaptation.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Biology / history
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic*