The Importance of Genetic Redundancy in Evolution

Áki Jarl Láruson*, Sam Yeaman, Katie E. Lotterhos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Genetic redundancy has been defined in many different ways at different levels of biological organization. Here, we briefly review the general concept of redundancy and focus on the evolutionary importance of redundancy in terms of the number of genotypes that give rise to the same phenotype. We discuss the challenges in determining redundancy empirically, with published experimental examples, and demonstrate the use of the C-score metric to quantify redundancy in evolution studies. We contrast the implicit assumptions of redundancy in quantitative versus population genetic models, show how this contributes to signatures of allele frequency shifts, and highlight how the rapid accumulation of genome-wide association data provides an avenue for further understanding the prevalence and role of redundancy in evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)809-822
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to thank the editor Andrea Stephens, reviewer Joachim Hermisson, and another anonymous reviewer for insights and suggestions that greatly improved the quality of this manuscript. Dr Molly Albecker, Dr Thais Bitter, Alan Downey-Wall, Sara Schaal, and Victoria Sindorf also provided many helpful comments and suggestions. S.Y. is supported by Alberta Innovates and NSERC Discovery funding. Á.J.L. and K.E.L. are supported by NSF (grant no. 1655701 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Other keywords

  • adaptation
  • genotype–phenotype
  • molecular evolution
  • population genetics
  • quantitative genetics
  • redundancy


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