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Robustness, messy genotype-phenotype maps, evolvability and the origin of novelty

  • Kosinski L. J., & Masel J. Stop codon readthrough errors purge deleterious cryptic sequences, facilitating the later co-option of non-coding sequences into coding, manuscript in preparation.
  • Willis S., & Masel J. (2018) Gene birth contributes to structural disorder encoded by overlapping genes, Genetics 210(1): 303-313.
  • Foy S. G., Wilson B. A., Cordes M. H. J., & Masel J. Progressively more subtle aggregation avoidance strategies form a long-term arrow of protein evolutionary time, manuscript submitted.
  • Nelson P., & Masel J. (2018) Evolutionary capacitance emerges spontaneously during adaptation to environmental changes, Cell reports, 25(1): 249-258.
  • Bungard D., Copple J. S., Yan J., Chhun J., Kumirov V. K., Foy S. G., Masel J., Wysocki V. H., & Cordes M. H. J. (2017) Foldability of a natural de novo evolved protein, Structure 25:1-10.
  • Wilson B. A., Foy S. G., Neme R., & Masel J. (2017) Young genes are highly disordered as predicted by the preadaptation hypothesis of de novo gene birth, Nature Ecology & Evolution, 1:0146.
  • Xiong K., McEntee J., Porfirio D., Masel J. (2017) Drift barriers to quality control when genes are expressed at different levels, Genetics 205: 397-407.
  • Andreatta, M. E., Levine, J.Al., Foy, S.G., Guzman, L., Kosinski, L., Cordes, M.H.J., & Masel, J. (2015) The recent de novo origin of protein C-termini, Genome Biology & Evolution 7(6):1686-1701.
  • Trotter, M. V.,Weissman, D. B., Peterson, G., Peck, K., & Masel, J. Cryptic genetic variation can make "irreducible complexity" a common mode of adaptation, Evolution, 68:3357–3367.
  • Masel J. (2013) Q&A: Evolutionary capacitance, BMC Biology, 11:103.
  • Brettner, L.M., & Masel, J. (2012) Protein stickiness, rather than number of functional protein-protein interactions, predicts expression noise and plasticity in yeast, BMC Systems Biology6:128 
  • Rajon, E., & Masel, J. (2013) Compensatory evolution and the origins of innovations, Genetics, 193(4):1209-20 .
  • Siegal M. L., & Masel J. (2012) Hsp90 depletion goes wild, BMC Biology 10:14 .
  • Wilson, B. A., & Masel, J. (2011). Putatively noncoding transcripts show extensive association with ribosomes. Genome Biology & Evolution, 3, 1245-1252
  • Masel, J. & Lyttle, D. N. (2011). The consequences of rare sexual reproduction by means of selfing in an otherwise clonally reproducing species. Theoretical Population Biology, 80(4), 317-322 .
  • Rajon, E., & Masel, J. (2011). Evolution of molecular error rates and the consequences for evolvability. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 108(3), 1082-7. (PubMed)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Trotter, M. V. (2010). Robustness and Evolvability. Trends in Genetics, 26(9), 406-414. (PubMed)Go to document
  • Lancaster, A. K., Bardill, J. P., True, H. L., & Masel, J. (2010). The Spontaneous Appearance Rate of the Yeast Prion [PSI+] and Its Implications For the Evolution of the Evolvability Properties of the [PSI+] System. Genetics, 184(2), 393-400. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Griswold, C. K. (2009). The strength of selection against the yeast prion [PSI+]. Genetics, 181(3), 1057-63. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Siegal, M. L. (2009). Robustness: mechanisms and consequences. Trends Genet. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Griswold, C. K., & Masel, J. (2009). Complex adaptations can drive the evolution of the capacitor [PSI], even with realistic rates of yeast sex. PLoS Genet, 5(6), 1000517. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Maughan, H. (2007). Mutations leading to loss of sporulation ability in Bacillus subtilis are sufficiently frequent to favor genetic canalization. Genetics, 175(1), 453-7. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Giacomelli, M. G., Hancock, A. S., & Masel, J. (2007). The conversion of 3′ UTRs into coding regions. Mol Biol Evol, 24(2), 457-64. (PDF) (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J. (2006). Cryptic genetic variation is enriched for potential adaptations. Genetics, 172(3), 1985-91. (PDF) (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J. (2005). Evolutionary capacitance may be favored by natural selection. Genetics, 170(3), 1359-71. (PDF) (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J. (2004). Genetic assimilation can occur in the absence of selection for the assimilating phenotype, suggesting a role for the canalization heuristic. J Evol Biol, 17(5), 1106-10. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Bergman, A. (2003). The evolution of the evolvability properties of the yeast prion [PSI+]. Evolution, 57(7), 1498-512. (PubMed)Go to document

Phenotypic switching

  • Lancaster, A. K., & Masel, J. (2009). The evolution of reversible switches in the presence of irreversible mimics. Evolution, 63(9), 2350-62. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • King, O. D., & Masel, J. (2007). The evolution of bet-hedging adaptations to rare scenarios. Theor Pop Biol, 72, 560-575. (PDF) (doi)Go to document

Trait loss

  • Maughan, H., Masel, J., Birky Jr, C. W., & Nicholson, W. L. (2007). The roles of mutation accumulation and selection in loss of sporulation in experimental populations of Bacillus subtilis. Genetics, 177(2), 937-48. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., King, O. D., & Maughan, H. (2007). The loss of adaptive plasticity during long periods of environmental stasis. Am Nat, 169(1), 38-46. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Maughan, H., Callicotte, V., Hancock, A., Birky Jr, C. W., Nicholson, W. L., & Masel, J. (2006). The population genetics of phenotypic deterioration in experimental populations of Bacillus subtilis. Evolution, 60(4), 686-95. (PubMed)Go to document

Genetic drift

  • Masel, J. (2012) Rethinking Hardy-Weinberg and genetic drift in undergraduate biology. BioEssays 34:701-710
  • Masel, J. (2011) Genetic drift. Current Biology, 21(20), R837-R838

Relative vs. absolute competitions

Other topics in evolution

Prion biology

  • Masel, J., Genoud, N., & Aguzzi, A. (2005). Efficient inhibition of prion replication by PrP-Fc2 suggests that the prion is a PrPSc oligomer. J Mol Biol, 345(5), 1243-51. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Jansen, V. A. (2004). Prion kinetics. Biophys J, 87(1), 728. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Jansen, V. A. (2001). The measured level of prion infectivity varies in a predictable way according to the aggregation state of the infectious agent. Biochim Biophys Acta, 1535(2), 164-73. (PubMed)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Jansen, V. A. (2000). Designing drugs to stop the formation of prion aggregates and other amyloids. Biophys Chem, 88(1-3), 47-59. (PubMed)Go to document
  • Masel, J., Jansen, V. A., & Nowak, M. A. (1999). Quantifying the kinetic parameters of prion replication. Biophys Chem, 77(2-3), 139-52. (PubMed)Go to document
  • Masel, J., & Jansen, V. A. (1999). The kinetics of proteinase K digestion of linear prion polymers. Proc Biol Sci, 266(1431), 1927-31. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document


  • Humphrey P. T., & Masel J. (2017) Outcome orientation — a misconception of probability that harms medical research and practice, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 59:147-155.
  • Masel J., Humphrey P. T., Blackburn B., & Levine J. A. (2015) Evidence-based medicine as a tool for undergraduate probability and statistics education, CBE Life Sciences Education, 14:1-10.
  • Masel, J. (2007). A Bayesian model of quasi-magical thinking can explain observed co-operation in the public good game. J. Econ. Behav. Organ., 64, 216-231. (PDF) (doi)Go to document
  • Bliss, T. M., Kelly, S., Shah, A. K., Foo, W. C., Kohli, P., & Stokes, C., et al. (2006). Transplantation of hNT neurons into the ischemic cortex: cell survival and effect on sensorimotor behavior. J Neurosci Res, 83(6), 1004-14. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Kelly, S., Bliss, T. M., Shah, A. K., Sun, G. H., Ma, M., & Foo, W. C., et al. (2004). Transplanted human fetal neural stem cells survive, migrate, and differentiate in ischemic rat cerebral cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 101(32), 11839-44. (PubMed)Go to document (doi)Go to document
  • Masel, J., Arnaout, R. A., O’Brien, T. R., Goedert, J. J., & Lloyd, A. L. (2000). Fluctuations in HIV-1 viral load are correlated to CD4+ T-lymphocyte count during the natural course of infection. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr, 23(5), 375-9. (PubMed)Go to document
  • Hazelton, N. W. J., Bennet, L. M., & Masel, J. (1992). Topological structures for 4-dimensional geographical information systems. Computers, Environment, and Urban Systems, 16, 227-237.