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The suggestion that there are characteristics of living organisms that have evolved because they increase the rate of evolution is controversial and difficult to study. In this review, we examine the role that experimental evolution might play in resolving this issue. We focus on three areas in which experimental evolution has been used previously to examine questions of evolvability; the evolution of mutational supply, the evolution of genetic exchange and the evolution of genetic architecture. In each case, we summarize what studies of experimental evolution have told us so far and speculate on where progress might be made in the future. We show that, while experimental evolution has helped us to begin to understand the evolutionary dynamics of traits that affect evolvability, many interesting questions remain to be answered.
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