For a long time the study of evolution has been based on morphology;the long neckof a giraffe, the human brain, a birdâs wing, and so on. Morphological changein evolution is explained by Darwinâstheory of natural selection, but this theory is largely qualitative rather than quantitative. Populationgenetics started morethan half a century ago as an attempt to understandevolutionary changequantitatively. Becauseevolution must take place in all individuals of a species, the changeof gene frequencyin the population has been analyzed. However, long as the facts of evolution are based on morphologicaltraits, so evolutionary change is very difficult to connect with gene frequency change except in relatively few circumstances. The remarkableprogress of molecularbiology has madeit possible to apply population genetics theory to real data. Wenowknow that genetic information is stored in linear sequences of DNA which are stably transmitted from generation to generation, and we can comparethe linear sequences of DNA and aminoacids among species. It is also possible to comparesecondary and tertiary structures of proteins and nucleic acids fromvarious sources. Becauseof such progress, someaspects of traditional neo-Darwinism are beginningto need revision. The first step in such a revision is the neutral mutation-random drift hypothesis put forward by Kimura(47) in 1968. In
Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics – Annual Reviews
Published: Nov 1, 1992
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