Mutator Dynamics on a Smooth Evolutionary Landscape

David A. Kessler, Herbert Levine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


We investigate a model of evolutionary dynamics on a smooth landscape which features a “mutator” allele which increases the mutation rate. We show that when the fitness is far from its equilibrium value the expected proportion of mutators approaches a value governed solely by the transition rates into and out of the mutator state, resulting in a much faster fitness increase than would be the case without the mutator allele. Near the fitness equilibrium, the mutators are severely suppressed, due to the detrimental effects of a large mutation rate near the fitness maximum. We discuss the results of a recent experiment on natural selection of E. coli in the light of our model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2012-2015
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2 Mar 1998


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