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Mathematics  2006 

Epistasis and Shapes of Fitness Landscapes

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The relationship between the shape of a fitness landscape and the underlying gene interactions, or epistasis, has been extensively studied in the two-locus case. Gene interactions among multiple loci are usually reduced to two-way interactions. We present a geometric theory of shapes of fitness landscapes for multiple loci. A central concept is the genotope, which is the convex hull of all possible allele frequencies in populations. Triangulations of the genotope correspond to different shapes of fitness landscapes and reveal all the gene interactions. The theory is applied to fitness data from HIV and Drosophila melanogaster. In both cases, our findings refine earlier analyses and reveal previously undetected gene interactions.


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