Plasticity-led evolution as an intrinsic property of developmental gene regulatory networks
by Eden Tian Hwa Ng | Akira R. Kinjo | Universiti Brunei Darussalam | Universiti Brunei Darussalam
Abstract ID: 1
Event: The 3rd AsiaEvo Conference
Topic: Open category
Presenter Name: Akira R. Kinjo

The Modern Evolutionary Synthesis seemingly fails to explain how a population can survive a large environmental change. That is, the pre-existence of heritable variants adapted to the novel environment is too opportunistic, whereas the search for new adaptive mutations after the environmental change is too slow. Plasticity-led evolution, the initial environmental induction of a novel adaptive phenotype followed by genetic accommodation, has been proposed to solve this problem. However, the mechanism enabling plasticity-led evolution is unclear. Here, we present computational models that exhibit behaviors compatible with plasticity-led evolution by extending the Wagner model of gene regulatory networks. The models exhibit adaptive plastic response and uncovering of cryptic mutations under significant environmental changes, followed by genetic accommodation. Moreover, these behaviors are consistently observed over distinct novel environments. We further show that environmental cues, developmental processes, and hierarchical regulation cooperatively amplify the above behaviors and accelerate evolution. These observations suggest plasticity-led evolution is a universal property of complex developmental regulation independent of particular mutations. Preprint is available at