Journal of Molecular Evolution

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 165–169

Exploring phenotype space through neutral evolution

  • Martijn A. Huynen

DOI: 10.1007/BF02338823

Cite this article as:
Huynen, M.A. J Mol Evol (1996) 43: 165. doi:10.1007/BF02338823


RNA secondary-structure folding algorithms predict the existence of connected networks of RNA sequences with identical secondary structures. Fitness landscapes that are based on the mapping between RNA sequence and RNA secondary structure hence have many neutral paths. A neutral walk on these fitness landscapes gives access to a virtually unlimited number of secondary structures that are a single point mutation from the neutral path. This shows that neutral evolution explores phenotype space and can play a role in adaptation.

Key words

RNA secondary structureNeutral EvolutionAdaptive evolutionGenotype-phenotype relationSequence spaceFitness landscape

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martijn A. Huynen
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Theoretical Biology and BiophysicsLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  2. 2.Center for Nonlinear StudiesLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  3. 3.Santa Fe InstituteSanta FeUSA