Evolution in changing environments: Modifiers of mutation, recombination, and migration

Oana Carjaa*, Uri Liberman, Marcus W. Feldman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production and maintenance of genetic and phenotypic diversity under temporally fluctuating selection and the signatures of environmental changes in the patterns of this variation have been important areas of focus in population genetics. On one hand, periods of constant selection pull the genetic makeup of populations toward local fitness optima. On the other, to cope with changes in the selection regime, populations may evolve mechanisms that create a diversity of genotypes. By tuning the rates at which variability is produced-such as the rates of recombination, mutation, or migration-populations may increase their long-term adaptability. Here we use theoretical models to gain insight into how the rates of these three evolutionary forces are shaped by fluctuating selection. We compare and contrast the evolution of recombination, mutation, and migration under similar patterns of environmental change and show that these three sources of phenotypic variation are surprisingly similar in their response to changing selection. We show that the shape, size, variance, and asymmetry of environmental fluctuation have different but predictable effects on evolutionary dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17935-17940
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number50
StatePublished - 16 Dec 2014


  • Fluctuating selection
  • Migration rate
  • Modifier genes
  • Mutation rate
  • Recombination rate


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