The rapid evolution of a trait in a group of organisms can be explained by the sustained action of natural selection or by a high mutational variance, i.e. the propensity to change under spontaneous mutation. The causes for a high mutational variance are still elusive. In some cases, fast evolution depends on the high mutation rate of one or few loci with short tandem repeats. Here, we report on the fastest evolving cell fate among vulva precursor cells in Caenorhabditis nematodes, that of P3.p. We identify and validate causal mutations underlying P3.p's high mutational variance. We find that these positions do not present any characteristics of a high mutation rate, are scattered across the genome and the corresponding genes belong to distinct biological pathways. Our data indicate that a broad mutational target size is the cause of the high mutational variance and of the corresponding fast phenotypic evolutionary rate.
- Marie-Anne Félix
- Marie-Anne Félix
- Joao Picao-Osorio
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Christian R Landry, Université Laval, Canada
- Received: January 6, 2020
- Accepted: August 27, 2020
- Accepted Manuscript published: August 27, 2020 (version 1)
© 2020, Besnard et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
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