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Are responses to artificial selection for reproductive fitness characters consistently asymmetrical*?

  • R. Frankham (a1)


Non-linear offspring-parent regressions and heritabilities are expected for characters showing genetic asymmetry due to directional dominance and/or asymmetrical gene frequencies. Since reproductive fitness characters exhibit these characteristics, they should show consistently nonlinear heritabilities, with greater heritabilities in the direction of lower fitness. As a consequence, responses to bi-directional selection on fitness traits should be asymmetrical in the same direction. This prediction has been tested by an analysis of published bi-directional selection experiments for reproductive fitness traits. Significant asymmetry (24 of 30 studies) in the predicted direction was found. For studies reporting realized heritabilities, the means were 0·173 and 0·259 for lines selected for higher and lower reproductive fitness, respectively, the high lines being 33% less than the low lines. Asymmetry was evident for studies reporting realized heritabilities and for those with random mating controls of the same size as the selection lines. Consequently, it is argued that the asymmetry results from genetic asymmetries. This asymmetry has important implications in the improvement of reproductive fitness traits in plant and animal breeding.

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