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Mutation-Driven Evolution 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199661732
ISBN-10: 0199661731
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Editorial Reviews

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"Overall, this is an interesting and useful book that brings up a less conventional and more current view of evolution. ... [Nei's] book makes a nice contribution in contrasting mathematical models of evolution with the real world, and the influence of external factors and internal molecular changes in the course of evolution. Above all, it shows that despite so much that we currently understand about evolution, there is still a lot to learn." --Science and Education


About the Author


Masatoshi Nei is a molecular evolutionary geneticist and has developed many statistical methods that are widely used for evolutionary studies at present. He has also studied human evolution and evolution of multigene families, immune systems genes, sensory receptor genes, etc. Masatoshi Nei is currently Evan Pugh Professor of Biology at the Pennsylvania State University and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He received numerous Awards including the International Prize for Biology from Japan and the Thomas Morgan Medal from the Genetics Society of America. Nei is a co-founder of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution and served as President of the Society for the Study of Molecular Biology and Evolution and American Genetic Association.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (June 14, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199661731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199661732
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,417,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By K. M. Weiss on October 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
The author is one of the major figures in the theory and analysis of molecular evolution of the last half of the 20th century. This book reflects his remarkable memory of that history and its major ideas about how complex adaptive traits evolve. Nei challenges the often automatic assumption that such traits are due to `selection' rather than mutation. The prevailing idea has been that there's always enough standing variation for selection to screen to enable new adaptations to occur. But Nei explains his challenge to that idea, that new adaptations for complex traits must await `constraint breaking' mutations that enable new pathways out of entrenched developmental systems. He also provides a more fluid view of species' options, a challenge to the view that they are all very tightly fitted, and adaptively restricted, to highly specialized niches. These ideas in various forms can be found in the biological literature, but not as cohesively argued as a general theory about the nature of adaptive evolution. The ideas deserve both the airing Nei gives them and the debate that may follow by those who would challenge them.
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Format: Hardcover
Every so often, a new idea is put forth to explain the underlying causes of evolution. Mostly, these ideas are not very earth-shattering, and typically they are very specific and applicable only to the problem at hand. The ideas put forth in this book are quite the opposite: together they form the basis of a new theory of mutation-driven evolution that eloquently explains “real examples”. If you want to be challenged to think about the underlying causes of evolution, and not simply be content to be spoon-fed dogma that has pervaded the literature, then this book is a must read for you. It flows well, and the examples provided are clearly and concisely explained. It will be of great value to graduate students and established researchers, but even those who have only taken undergraduate courses in evolutionary biology will appreciate this book. If you want to gain a true appreciation for how evolution “works”, then I highly recommend you buy and read this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nei begins his Chapter 6 by saying: "In the study of evolution the following question is often asked: what is the relative importance of mutation and natural selection? In my view this is not an appropriate question, because the roles of mutation and selection are qualitatively different."

However, the theme of his book is that mutation is primary, although he says at one point that "Of course, this does not mean that natural selection is unimportant".

His arguments are strong, and textbooks must change. But neo-Darwinian concepts still have some relevance.

After a major meteor strike, intense selection occurred before "lucky" new mutations could make a difference. The same was probably true for lesser catastrophes, if not too local or transitory.

Whenever the environment changes quickly, the first response is probably via selection, and mutations that eliminate functions not needed in the new environment. Favorable new mutations have low probability, and therefore come later. This may apply to Founders, if they are poorly adapted to their new environment but have little competition, except from each other. Not every fish that enters a cave survives to breed!

Favorable mutations can upset stability. Is this relevant for punctuated equilibrium (not mentioned in his index)?
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