Stress-induced mutagenesis and complex adaptation

Yoav Ram, Lilach Hadany*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Because mutations are mostly deleterious, mutation rates should be reduced by natural selection. However, mutations also provide the raw material for adaptation. Therefore, evolutionary theory suggests that the mutation rate must balance between adaptability-the ability to adapt-and adaptedness-the ability to remain adapted. We model an asexual population crossing a fitness valley and analyse the rate of complex adaptation with and without stress-induced mutagenesis (SIM)-the increase of mutation rates in response to stress or maladaptation. We show that SIM increases the rate of complex adaptation without reducingthepopulationmeanfitness, thus breaking the evolutionary trade-off between adaptability and adaptedness. Our theoretical results support the hypothesis that SIM promotes adaptation and provide quantitative predictions of the rate of complex adaptation with different mutational strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20141025
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1792
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2014


FundersFunder number
Seventh Framework Programme224866


    • Adaptive peak shifts
    • Evolvability
    • Mathematical model
    • Mutation rate
    • Stress-induced variation
    • Trade-off


    Dive into the research topics of 'Stress-induced mutagenesis and complex adaptation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this