Most cellular features have a range of states, but understanding the mechanisms responsible for interspecific divergence is a challenge for evolutionary cell biology. Models are developed for the distribution of mean phenotypes likely to evolve under the joint forces of mutation and genetic drift in the face of constant selection pressures. Mean phenotypes will deviate from optimal states to a degree depending on the effective population size, potentially leading to substantial divergence in the absence of diversifying selection. The steady-state distribution for the mean can even be bimodal, with one domain being largely driven by selection and the other by mutation pressure, leading to the illusion of phenotypic shifts being induced by movement among alternative adaptive domains. These results raise questions as to whether lineage-specific selective pressures are necessary to account for interspecific divergence, providing a possible platform for the establishment of null models for the evolution of cell-biological traits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)