From fitness landscapes to seascapes: non-equilibrium dynamics of selection and adaptation

Trends Genet. 2009 Mar;25(3):111-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Feb 18.


Evolution is a quest for innovation. Organisms adapt to changing natural selection by evolving new phenotypes. Can we read this dynamics in their genomes? Not every mutation under positive selection responds to a change in selection: beneficial changes also occur at evolutionary equilibrium, repairing previous deleterious changes and restoring existing functions. Adaptation, by contrast, is viewed here as a non-equilibrium phenomenon: the genomic response to time-dependent selection. Our approach extends the static concept of fitness landscapes to dynamic fitness seascapes. It shows that adaptation requires a surplus of beneficial substitutions over deleterious ones. Here, we focus on the evolution of yeast and Drosophila genomes, providing examples where adaptive evolution can and cannot be inferred, despite the presence of positive selection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Drift
  • Genome, Fungal
  • Genome, Insect
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation
  • Population Dynamics*
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / genetics
  • Selection, Genetic*