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Collective fluctuations in the dynamics of adaptation and other traveling waves.

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Hallatschek,  Oskar
Max Planck Research Group Biological Physics and Evolutionary Dynamics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Geyrhofer,  Lukas
Max Planck Research Group Biological Physics and Evolutionary Dynamics, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Max Planck Society;

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Hallatschek, O., & Geyrhofer, L. (2016). Collective fluctuations in the dynamics of adaptation and other traveling waves. Genetics, 202(3), 1201-1227. doi:10.1534/genetics.115.181271.


Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-3B3B-F
Abstract
The dynamics of adaptation are difficult to predict because it is highly stochastic even in large populations. The uncertainty emerges from random genetic drift arising in a vanguard of particularly fit individuals of the population. Several approaches have been developed to analyze the crucial role of genetic drift on the expected dynamics of adaptation, including the mean fitness of the entire population, or the fate of newly arising beneficial deleterious mutations. However, little is known about how genetic drift causes fluctuations to emerge on the population level, where it becomes palpable as variations in the adaptation speed and the fitness distribution. Yet these phenomena control the decay of genetic diversity and variability in evolution experiments and are key to a truly predictive understanding of evolutionary processes. Here, we show that correlations induced by these emergent fluctuations can be computed at any arbitrary order by a suitable choice of a dynamical constraint. The resulting linear equations exhibit fluctuation-induced terms that amplify short-distance correlations and suppress long-distance ones. These terms, which are in general not small, control the decay of genetic diversity and, for wave-tip dominated (“pulled”) waves, lead to anticorrelations between the tip of the wave and the lagging bulk of the population. While it is natural to consider the process of adaptation as a branching random walk in fitness space subject to a constraint (due to finite resources), we show that other traveling wave phenomena in ecology and evolution likewise fall into this class of constrained branching random walks. Our methods, therefore, provide a systematic approach toward analyzing fluctuations in a wide range of population biological processes, such as adaptation, genetic meltdown, species invasions, or epidemics.