Understanding how changes in DNA drive the emergence of new phenotypes and fuel evolution remains a major challenge. One major hurdle is the lack of a fossil record of DNA that allows linking mutations to phenotypic changes. However, the emergence of high-throughput sequencing technologies now allows sequencing genomes of natural and experimentally evolved microbial populations to study how mutations arise and spread through a population, how new phenotypes arise and how this ultimately leads to adaptation. Here, we highlight key studies that have increased our mechanistic understanding of evolution. We specifically focus on the model eukaryote Saccharomyces cerevisiae because its relatively short replication time, much-studied biology and available molecular toolbox have made it a prime model for molecular evolution studies.
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