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Genetic Covariance of Fitness Correlates: What Genetic Correlations are Made of and Why it Matters

David Houle
Evolution
Vol. 45, No. 3 (May, 1991), pp. 630-648
DOI: 10.2307/2409916
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2409916
Page Count: 19
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Genetic Covariance of Fitness Correlates: What Genetic Correlations are Made of and Why it Matters
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Abstract

The genetic variance-covariance matrix, G, is determined in part by functional architecture, the pathways by which variation in genotype influences phenotype. I develop a simple architectural model for G for two traits under directional selection constrained by their dependence on a common limiting resource. I assume that genetic variance is maintained by mutation-selection balance. The relative numbers of loci that play a role in acquiring versus allocating a limiting resource play a crucial role in determining genetic covariance. If many loci are involved in acquiring a resource, genetic covariance may be either negative or positive at equilibrium, depending on the fitness function and the input of mutational variance. The form of G does not necessarily reveal the constraint on resource acquisition inherent in the system, and therefore studies estimating G do not test for the existence of life-history tradeoffs. Characters may evolve in patterns that are unpredictable from G. Experiments are suggested that would indicate if this model could explain observations of positive genetic covariance.

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