Wagner Lab Research

University of Zurich

Institute of
Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies




Laboratory Evolution

How do organisms adapt to changing environments? Does their robustness to mutations facilitate such adaptation? What is the role of cryptic variation in evolutionary innovation? How do gene duplications influence evolutionary adaptation? These are some questions that laboratory evolution experiments can answer. The ability to let an evolutionary process unfold in a precisely controlled environment makes laboratory evolution a powerful tool to study evolution. Our experiments are motivated by general questions with broad implications for evolution, rather than by the desire to understand the natural history of any one group of organisms. Depending on the question, our experiments use bacteria, yeast, and fruit flies, but also in vitro evolution of molecules. We heavily rely on functional genomic technology, such as gene expression microarrays, as well as high throughput genome sequencing to analyze genetic changes that arise in the course of evolution.


Selected Publications

Hayden, E.J., Ferrada, E., Wagner, A. (2011) Cryptic genetic variation promotes rapid evolutionary adaptation in an RNA enzyme. Nature 474, 92-95. [link]

Dhar, R., Sägesser, R., Weikert, C., Yuan, J., Wagner, A. (2011) Adaptation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae to saline stress through laboratory evolution. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 5, 1135-1153. [reprint request]

Chen, B., Wagner, A. (2012) Hsp90 is important for fecundity, longevity, and buffering of cryptic deleterious variation in wild fly populations. BMC Evolutionary Biology 12, 25. [reprint request]

Hayden, E.J., Wagner, A. (2012) Environmental change exposes beneficial epistatic interactions in a catalytic RNA. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 279, 3418-3425.  

Dhar, R., Saegesser, R., Weikert, C., Wagner, A. (2013) Yeast adapts to a changing stressful environment by evolving cross-protection and anticipatory gene regulation. Molecular Biology and Evolution 30, 573-588. [reprint request]

Hayden, E., Bendixsen, D.P., Wagner, A. (2015) Intramolecular phenotypic capacitance in a modular RNA molecule. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, 12444-12449. [reprint request]

Bratulic, S., Gerber, F., Wagner, A. (2015) Mistranslation drives the evolution of robustness but not translational accuracy in TEM-1 beta-lactamase. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112 , 12758-12763. [reprint request]