Evolution of genome-phenome diversity under environmental stress

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The genomic era revolutionized evolutionary biology. The enigma of genotypic-phenotypic diversity and biodiversity evolution of genes, genomes, phenomes, and biomes, reviewed here, was central in the research program of the Institute of Evolution, University of Haifa, since 1975. We explored the following questions. (i) How much of the genomic and phenomic diversity in nature is adaptive and processed by natural selection? (ii) What is the origin and evolution of adaptation and speciation processes under spatiotemporal variables and stressful macrogeographic and microgeographic environments? We advanced ecological genetics into ecological genomics and analyzed globally ecological, demographic, and life history variables in 1,200 diverse species across life, thousands of populations, and tens of thousands of individuals tested mostly for allozyme and partly for DNA diversity. Likewise, we tested thermal, chemical, climatic, and biotic stresses in several model organisms. Recently, we introduced genetic maps and quantitative trait loci to elucidate the genetic basis of adaptation and speciation. The genome-phenome holistic model was deciphered by the global regressive, progressive, and convergent evolution of subterranean mammals. Our results indicate abundant genotypic and phenotypic diversity in nature. The organization and evolution of molecular and organismal diversity in nature at global, regional, and local scales are nonrandom and structured; display regularities across life; and are positively correlated with, and partly predictable by, abiotic and biotic environmental heterogeneity and stress. Biodiversity evolution, even in small isolated populations, is primarily driven by natural selection, including diversifying, balancing, cyclical, and purifying selective regimes, interacting with, but ultimately overriding, the effects of mutation, migration, and stochasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6233-6240
Number of pages8
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number11
StatePublished - 22 May 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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