Abundant genetic variation + strong selection = multivariate genetic constraints: A geometric view of adaptation

Bruce Walsh, Mark W. Blows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

346 Scopus citations

Abstract

Evolutionary biology has struggled to explain the coexistence of two basic observations: Genetic variation is found in almost all traits in the presence of strong natural and sexual selection in natural populations. These two observations are in direct conflict as such selection should deplete genetic variation. Furthermore, the presence of genetic variation in a trait, and selection acting on that trait, is often not sufficient for the trait to respond to selection. Here, we bring together geometric perspectives on mutation, selection, and genetic variation and show how the perceived incompatibility between these two observations is a consequence of taking a trait-by-trait approach to the multivariate problem of genetic variation and selection. We conclude that the simultaneous presence of widespead genetic variation in, and strong selection on, individual traits indicates that substantial multivariate genetic constraints are likely to be present in natural populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-59
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
Volume40
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • G matrix
  • Genetic constraints
  • Genetic variance
  • Natural selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology

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