Can the experimental evolution programme help us elucidate the genetic basis of adaptation in nature?

Susan Bailey, Thomas Bataillon

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


There have been a variety of approaches taken to try to characterize and identify the genetic basis of adaptation in nature, spanning theoretical models, experimental evolution studies and direct tests of natural populations. Theoretical models can provide formalized and detailed hypotheses regarding evolutionary processes and patterns, from which experimental evolution studies can then provide important proofs of concepts and characterize what is biologically reasonable. Genetic and genomic data from natural populations then allow for the identification of the particular factors that have and continue to play an important role in shaping adaptive evolution in the natural world. Further to this, experimental evolution studies allow for tests of theories that may be difficult or impossible to test in natural populations for logistical and methodological reasons and can even generate new insights, suggesting further refinement of existing theories. However, as experimental evolution studies often take place in a very particular set of controlled conditions – that is simple environments, a small range of usually asexual species, relatively short timescales – the question remains as to how applicable these experimental results are to natural populations. In this review, we discuss important insights coming from experimental evolution, focusing on four key topics tied to the evolutionary genetics of adaptation, and within those topics, we discuss the extent to which the experimental work compliments and informs natural population studies. We finish by making suggestions for future work in particular a need for natural population genomic time series data, as well as the necessity for studies that combine both experimental evolution and natural population approaches.
TidsskriftMolecular Ecology
StatusUdgivet - 2015


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