Empirical fitness landscapes and the predictability of evolution

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The genotype–fitness map (that is, the fitness landscape) is a key determinant of evolution, yet it has mostly been used as a superficial metaphor because we know little about its structure. This is now changing, as real fitness landscapes are being analysed by constructing genotypes with all possible combinations of small sets of mutations observed in phylogenies or in evolution experiments. In turn, these first glimpses of empirical fitness landscapes inspire theoretical analyses of the predictability of evolution. Here, we review these recent empirical and theoretical developments, identify methodological issues and organizing principles, and discuss possibilities to develop more realistic fitness landscape models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)480-490
JournalNature Reviews Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • escherichia-coli population
  • beneficial mutations
  • deleterious mutations
  • antibiotic-resistance
  • adaptive trajectories
  • natural-selection
  • sequence space
  • sign epistasis
  • adaptation
  • model

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