Physics Colloquium - Emergent Simplicity of Evolution and the Possibility of Predicting Evolutionary Future

Event Date: 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Broida 1640

Event Contact: 


Boris Shraiman, KITP, UCSB


Evolution works through natural selection that acts on genetic variation and a mounting body of evidence suggests that large populations harbor a great deal of such “selectable” variation.  This fact presents a challenge to the molecular genetics approach to evolution, built on the assumption that the latter is driven by infrequent large effect mutations, which can be identified and studied one at a time.   On the other hand, evolutionary dynamics driven by the collective effect of numerous polymorphisms at different genetic loci, each of which making only a small individual contribution, lends itself to a “Statistical Genetics” approach inspired by Statistical Mechanics. The talk will explain how this StatMech-driven approach leads to a predictive theory of evolutionary dynamics in rapidly evolving asexual populations and will demonstrate its capacity to predict, based on a sample of genomic sequences, the emerging strain of seasonal Influenza virus.