The evolution of dominance in certain polymorphic species

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Fisher, R. A. 1930. The evolution of dominance in certain polymorphic species. The American Naturalist. 64 (694), pp. 385-406.

AuthorsFisher, R. A.

Polymorphism in wild populations must usually imply a balance of selective agencies, of which the simplest type is a selective advantage of the heterozygote over both homozygotes. Such a condition should not be confused with the maintenance of a rare mutant type against counter-selection by means of repeated mutations. While such mutations should on the theory of the selective modification of dominance tend to become recessive, heterozygotes in polymorphic species will tend to resemble in external appearance whichever homozygote it is most advantageous to resemble. The selective balance must then be maintained by some constitutional disadvantage of the homozygous dominant. The modification of dominance should in such cases be especially rapid; partly by reason of the far greater frequencies of the heterozygotes exposed to selection, and partly, if any tract of chromatin is permanently associated with the dominant gene, from the fact that the evolutionary modification of such a tract will be reserved for the improvement of the heterozygote, and in less degree of the corresponding homozygote. Nabours' experiments with the grouse locust Apotettix do, in fact, show such a deficiency of homozygous doral nants as is required by this theory. The average amount of the deficiency is about 7 per cent. In six individual cases the deficiency is statistically significant, and six more show a non-significant deficiency, against two showing a non-significant excess. It is not certain from the existing data whether the homozygous recessive is equivalent in viability to the heterozygotes, or suffers also from a slight defect in viability. Deliberate experiments on the viability of the different genotypes together with counts of the frequencies in nature would enable the inference that the dominants really exhibit the more advantageous patterns to be put: to a quantitative test. The incidence of dominance and linkage in the fish Lebistes reticulatus, strongly suggests that the colored genes found by Winge are advantageous in the male but disadvantageous in the female. The association of the three peculiarities of polymorphism, close linkage and the universal recessive type of dominance is found in mollusks, arthropods and vertebrates. It is tentatively suggested that, at least in the grouse locusts and the snails, the primary cause of the two other phenomena may be found in the closeness of linkage within or between chromosomes. This condition presents an obstacle to normal evolutionary development by gene substitution, and so makes it possible for abnormalities such as duplications to possess occasional advantages, so setting up the stability of the gene-ratio necessary for polymorphism; if the advantage lies in the external appearance, the polymorphism will be manifest, and the variant form will tend to become dominant.

Year of Publication1930
JournalThe American Naturalist
Journal citation64 (694), pp. 385-406
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Open accessPublished as non-open access
PublisherAmerican Society of Naturalists
The University of Chicago Press

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