Eric J. Hayden

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Cryptic variation is caused by the robustness of phenotypes to mutations. Cryptic variation has no effect on phenotypes in a given genetic or environmental background, but it can have effects after mutations or environmental change. Because evolutionary adaptation by natural selection requires phenotypic variation, phenotypically revealed cryptic genetic(More)
The origins of life on Earth required the establishment of self-replicating chemical systems capable of maintaining and evolving biological information. In an RNA world, single self-replicating RNAs would have faced the extreme challenge of possessing a mutation rate low enough both to sustain their own information and to compete successfully against(More)
RNA oligomers of length 40-60 nt can self-assemble into covalent versions of the Azoarcus group I intron ribozyme. This process requires a series of recombination reactions in which the internal guide sequence of a nascent catalytic complex makes specific interactions with a complement triplet, CAU, in the oligomers. However, if the CAU were mutated,(More)
A canalized genotype is robust to environmental or genetic perturbations. Canalization is expected to result from stabilizing selection on a well-adapted phenotype. Decanalization, the loss of robustness, might follow periods of directional selection toward a new optimum. The evolutionary forces causing decanalization are still unknown, in part because it(More)
The distribution of variation in a quantitative trait and its underlying distribution of genotypic diversity can both be shaped by stabilizing and directional selection. Understanding either distribution is important, because it determines a population’s response to natural selection. Unfortunately, existing theory makes conflicting predictions about how(More)
The encapsulation of information-bearing macromolecules inside protocells is a critical step in scenarios for the origins of life on the Earth as well as for the construction of artificial living systems. For these protocells to emulate life, they must be able to transmit genetic information to other cells. We have used a water-in-oil emulsion system to(More)
Phenotypic capacitance refers to the ability of a genome to accumulate mutations that are conditionally hidden and only reveal phenotype-altering effects after certain environmental or genetic changes. Capacitance has important implications for the evolution of novel forms and functions, but experimentally studied mechanisms behind capacitance are mostly(More)
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