The evolution of complex genetic networks is shaped over the course of many generations through multiple mechanisms. These mechanisms can be broken into two predominant categories: adaptive forces, such as natural selection, and non-adaptive forces, such as recombination, genetic drift, and random mutation. Adaptive forces are influenced by the environment, where individuals better suited for their ecological niche are more likely to reproduce. This adaptive force results in a selective pressure which creates a bias in the reproduction of individuals with beneficial traits. Non-adaptive forces, in contrast, are not influenced by the environment: Random mutations occur in offspring regardless of whether they improve the fitness of the offspring. Both adaptive and non-adaptive forces play critical roles in the development of a species over time, and both forces are intrinsically linked to one another. We hypothesize that even under a simple sexual reproduction model, selective pressure will result in changes in the mutation rate and genome size. We tested this hypothesis by evolving Boolean networks using a modified genetic algorithm. Our results demonstrate that changes in environmental signals can result in selective pressure which affects mutation rate.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Genetic algorithms