Step-wise evolution. Adaptation to a complex environment (A) can be accelerated (B) or decelerated (C) if guided through intermediate steps of a lesser complexity. Fitness profile for a population evolving in a target complex environment (solid black curve) is a multidimensional surface with multiple local maxima. Adaptation to intermediate environments (dashed grey fitness profiles) can direct evolution towards to (or away from) the global fitness maximum of the target environment.
Mozhayskiy and Tagkopoulos BMC Bioinformatics 2012 13(Suppl 10):S10 doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-S10-S10