Evolution of genetic assimilation.

An activation factor is assumed to be needed to express a phenotype such as crossveinless (CVL). The factor is produced stochastically and its concentration varies between individuals within a population. For CVL to be expressed the concentration needs to exceed a threshold. (A) Under Control conditions the threshold has a value C, and CVL is not expressed because no fly in a pre-selection wild type population exceeds the threshold. The effect of subjecting a pre-selection fly pupa to a heat shock is to lower the threshold to a value H, in which case some flies become CVL (yellow fraction). (B) After selection for CVL following heat shock, the selected flies evolved to produce the activation factor with a distribution that has a higher mean. Under Control conditions, more selected flies are CVL after heat shock (yellow and red fraction), but some flies are able to express CVL even under Control conditions (red fraction). (C) Alternatively, selected flies may have evolved an activation factor with a distribution that has a larger variance but the same mean as before selection. CVL is expressed under both Control conditions (red) and after heat shock (yellow and red).