Quantifying Slow Evolutionary Dynamics in RNA Fitness Landscapes

P. Sulc 1, A. Wagner 2, 3, O. C. Martin 1, 4

Journal of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology 8 (2010) 1027-1040

We re-examine the evolutionary dynamics of RNA secondary structures under directional selection towards an optimum RNA structure. We find that the punctuated equilibria lead to a very slow approach to the optimum, following on average an inverse power of the evolutionary time. In addition, our study of the trajectories shows that the out-of-equilibrium effects due to the evolutionary process are very weak. In particular, the distribution of genotypes is close to that arising during equilibrium stabilizing selection. As a consequence, the evolutionary dynamics leave almost no measurable out-of-equilibrium trace, only the transition genotypes (close to the border between different periods of stasis) have atypical mutational properties.

  • 1. Laboratoire de Physique Théorique et Modèles Statistiques (LPTMS),
    CNRS : UMR8626 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud
  • 2. Department of Biochemistry,
    University of Zurich
  • 3. Santa Fe Institute,
    Santa Fe Institute
  • 4. Génétique Végétale (GV),
    CNRS : UMR8120 – Institut national de la recherche agronomique (INRA) : UMR0320 – Université Paris XI - Paris Sud – AgroParisTech