Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Neutral Theory Of Molecular Evolution

Proposal that genetic change at any level (during replication, transcription, translation, and phenotypic expression) produces changes in fitness that are sufficiently small that chance rather than natural selection is the greater force in determining evolutionary outcomes. According to this view, molecular evolution is due mainly to neutral drift; the mutations that have been substituted during evolution are selectively neutral with respect to the alleles that they replaced; proposed by Kimura in 1983.

See neutral drift theory, genetic load, and neutral mutation.

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