Lecture 4 - Neutral Evolution: Genetic Drift

author: Stephen C. Stearns, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University
recorded by: Yale University
published: April 17, 2010,   recorded: January 2009,   views: 3746
released under terms of: Creative Commons Attribution No Derivatives (CC-BY-ND)

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Description

Neutral evolution occurs when genes do not experience natural selection because they have no effect on reproductive success. Neutrality arises when mutations in an organism's genotype cause no change in its phenotype, or when changes in the genotype bring about changes in the phenotype that do not affect reproductive success. Because neutral genes do not change in any particular direction over time and simply "drift," thanks in part to the randomness of meiosis, they can be used as a sort of molecular clock to determine common ancestors or places in the phylogenetic tree of life.

Reading assignment:

Stearns, Stephen C. and Rolf Hoekstra. Evolution: An Introduction, chapter 3

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