Exploring the expanse between theoretical questions and experimental approaches in the modern study of evolvability

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Despite several decades of computational and experimental work across many systems, evolvability remains on the periphery with regards to its status as a widely accepted and regularly applied theoretical concept. Here we propose that its marginal status is partly a result of large gaps between the diverse but disconnected theoretical treatments of evolvability and the relatively narrower range of studies that have tested it empirically. To make this case, we draw on a range of examples-from experimental evolution in microbes, to molecular evolution in proteins-where attempts have been made to mend this disconnect. We highlight some examples of progress that has been made and point to areas where synthesis and translation of existing theory can lead to further progress in the still-new field of empirical measurements of evolvability.



deep mutation scanning, evolvability, experimental evolution, modeling, population genetics