Bergman A and Siegal ML, 2003. Nature 424:549–552.
Most species, including our own, are genetically diverse. In this paper, computational simulations were used to investigate how genetic diversity contributes to differences in observable traits. These simulations showed that, when many genes interact to produce a trait, the genes are expected to have a property called capacitance, whereby genetic differences accumulate without having an effect on the trait but can be suddenly revealed by a perturbation to the interaction network. Capacitance might have major implications for evolution because of the way it modulates how genetic diversity translates into trait diversity. Capacitance had previously been associated with a single gene, but this work suggested that many genes would show this property.
In 2009, Nature recognized this paper as an “Evolutionary Gem”, one of “15 examples published by Nature over the past decade or so to illustrate the breadth, depth and power of evolutionary thinking.”
Levy SF and Siegal ML, 2008. PLoS Biology 6:e264.
This paper used automated image analysis of microscopic yeast cells to identify capacitors, genes that modulate the observed degree of shape differences between cells. Hundreds of such genes were identified, and it was found that they occupy central positions in cellular networks.