THE ROLE OF JACKPOT EVENTS IN THE DYNAMICS OF EVOLUTION
Departments of Physics and Integrative Biology
Luria and Delbrück discovered that mutations that occur early during a growth process lead to exceptionally large mutant clones. These mutational “jackpot” events are thought to dominate the genetic diversity of growing cellular populations, including biofilms, solid tumors and developing embryos. In my chalk talk I show that jackpot events can be generated not only when mutations arise early but also when they occur at favourable locations, which exacerbates their role in adaptation and disease. I will also consider the impact of recurrent jackpot events, which lead to a bias favoring alleles that happen to be present in the majority of the population. I argue that this peculiar rich-get-richer phenomenon is a general feature of evolution driven by rare events.