Statistical physics of evolutionary trajectories on fitness landscapes

Michael Manhart, Alexandre V. Morozov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


Random walks on multidimensional landscapes are important to many areas of science and engineering. In particular, properties of adaptive first-passage trajectories on fitness landscapes determine population fates and thus play a central role in evolutionary biology. The topography of fitness landscapes and its effect on evolutionary dynamics have been extensively studied in the literature. We will survey the current knowledge in this field, focusing on a recently developed systematic approach to characterizing path lengths, mean times, and other statistics of the first-passage path ensemble. This approach, based on general techniques from statistical physics, is applicable to landscapes of arbitrary complexity and structure. It is especially well-suited to quantifying the diversity of stochastic trajectories and repeatability of evolutionary events. We demonstrate this methodology using a biophysical model of protein evolution that describes how proteins maintain folding stability while evolving new functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFirst-Passage Phenomena and Their Applications
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co.
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9789814590297
ISBN (Print)9789814590280
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mathematics(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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