The fitness landscape of the codon space across environments.


Fitness landscapes map the relationship between genotypes and fitness. However, most fitness landscape studies ignore the genetic architecture imposed by the codon table and thereby neglect the potential role of synonymous mutations. To quantify the fitness effects of synonymous mutations and their potential impact on adaptation on a fitness landscape, we use a new software based on Bayesian Monte Carlo Markov Chain methods and re-estimate selection coefficients of all possible codon mutations across 9 amino acid positions in Saccharomyces cerevisiae Hsp90 across 6 environments. We quantify the distribution of fitness effects of synonymous mutations and show that it is dominated by many mutations of small or no effect and few mutations of larger effect. We then compare the shape of the codon fitness landscape across amino acid positions and environments, and quantify how the consideration of synonymous fitness effects changes the evolutionary dynamics on these fitness landscapes. Together these results highlight a possible role of synonymous mutations in adaptation and indicate the potential mis-inference when they are neglected in fitness landscape studies.

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