The Utility of Fisher's Geometric Model in Evolutionary Genetics

Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst. 2014 Nov 1;45:179-201. doi: 10.1146/annurev-ecolsys-120213-091846.


The accumulation of data on the genomic bases of adaptation has triggered renewed interest in theoretical models of adaptation. Among these models, Fisher Geometric Model (FGM) has received a lot of attention over the last two decades. FGM is based on a continuous multidimensional phenotypic landscape, but it is for the emerging properties of individual mutation effects that it is mostly used. Despite an apparent simplicity and a limited number of parameters, FGM integrates a full model of mutation and epistatic interactions that allows the study of both beneficial and deleterious mutations, and subsequently the fate of evolving populations. In this review, I present the different properties of FGM and the qualitative and quantitative support they have received from experimental evolution data. I later discuss how to estimate the different parameters of the model and outline some future directions to connect FGM and the molecular determinants of adaptation.

Keywords: Fisher’s Geometric model; adaptive landscape; distribution of fitness effects; drift load; epistasis; phenotypic complexity; pleiotropy; robustness.