Functional genomic insights into the environmental determinants of mammalian fitness

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2018 Dec;53:105-112. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2018.08.001. Epub 2018 Aug 22.


Both the social and physical environment shape health, reproduction, and survival across many species, and identifying how these effects manifest at the molecular level has long been a priority in medicine and evolutionary biology. The recent rise of functional genomics has enabled researchers to gain new insights into how environmental inputs shape variation in gene regulation, and consequently, downstream organism-level traits. Here, we discuss recent work on this topic, as well as key knowledge gaps. Research in this area spans a wide range of taxa, but we focus our review on mammalian species because of their close evolutionary proximity to humans and because of their relevance for understanding human health. Improving our understanding of how the environment and the genome are connected promises to shed new light on the mechanisms underlying environmentally-induced disease in humans, as well as the evolution of environmental sensitivity more generally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • Gene-Environment Interaction
  • Genetic Fitness*
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Reproduction / genetics*