In the course of describing an experiment on cryptic variation in E coli, Andreas Wagner offers
Genetic variation—that is, accumulated mutations in the DNA—is the fuel for all evolutionary change: the more genetic variation, the faster evolution works and the more possibilities for novel adaptive solutions.
But one kind of genetic variation—hidden, or “cryptic,” variation— doesn’t alter the appearance or behavior of an organism in its usual environment.
“It’s an underappreciated kind of genetic variation,” says corresponding author Andreas Wagner, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Zurich and external professor at the Santa Fe Institute, “and it plays an important role in evolution.”…
In the wild, cryptic variation helps fish adapt to life in caves. In the lab, cryptic variation might help a biomolecule bind a new receptor. “Our work can help develop new directed evolution strategies to find innovative biomolecules for biotechnological and medical applications,” says Zheng.
Like a fat savings account, cryptic variation is a store of variation that becomes available in an emergency to fuel rapid evolutionary change critical to the survival of a lineage and useful for molecular biologists.Santa Fe Institute, “Hidden genetic variations power evolutionary leaps” at Phys.org
It sounds a lot like this “fat savings account” of potential variations in evolution is preprogrammed, which would certainly make sense from a design perspective. Something like Lee Spetner’s approach in The Evolution Revolution. Or, as a friend says, it’s “evolutionary teleonomy.”
Not that the people at Santa Fe mention it.
See also: Evolutionary Teleonomy: Support From Mainstream Evolutionary Biologists (Jonathan Bartlett)
The Dangers Of Bad Paradigms And The Need For Evolutionary Teleonomy (Jonathan Bartlett)
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