Genetic assimilation: a review of its potential proximate causes and evolutionary consequences


Background Most, if not all, organisms possess the ability to alter their phenotype in direct response to changes in their environment, a phenomenon known as phenotypic plasticity. Selection can break this environmental sensitivity, however, and cause a formerly environmentally induced trait to evolve to become fixed through a process called genetic assimilation. Essentially, genetic assimilation can be viewed as the evolution of environmental robustness in what was formerly an environmentally sensitive trait. Because genetic assimilation has long been suggested to play a key role in the origins of phenotypic novelty and possibly even new species, identifying and characterizing the proximate mechanisms that underlie genetic assimilation may advance our basic understanding of how novel traits and species evolve

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This paper was published in Carolina Digital Repository.

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