Peter Stadler, Andreas Wagner

Paper #: 99-02-010

Many properties of organisms show great robustness against mutations. Whether this robustness is an evolved property or intrinsic to genetic systems is by and large unknown. An evolutionary origin of robustness would require a rethinking of key concepts in the field of molecular evolution, such as gene-specific neutral mutation rates, or the context-independence of deleterious mutations. We provide evidence that mutational robustness of the genome of RNA viruses to mutational changes in secondary structure has evolved.