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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003 Jun 29;358(1434):1141-7.

The genetic architecture necessary for transgressive segregation is common in both natural and domesticated populations.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Indiana University, 1001 E. 3rd Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA. Iriesebe@indiana.edu


Segregating hybrids often exhibit phenotypes that are extreme or novel relative to the parental lines. This phenomenon is referred to as transgressive segregation, and it provides a mechanism by which hybridization might contribute to adaptive evolution. Genetic studies indicate that transgressive segregation typically results from recombination between parental taxa that possess quantitative trait loci (QTLs) with antagonistic effects (i.e. QTLs with effects that are in the opposite direction to parental differences for those traits). To assess whether this genetic architecture is common, we tabulated the direction of allelic effects for 3252 QTLs from 749 traits and 96 studies. Most traits (63.6%) had at least one antagonistic QTL, indicating that the genetic substrate for transgressive segregation is common. Plants had significantly more antagonistic QTLs than animals, which agrees with previous reports that transgressive segregation is more common in plants than in animals. Likewise, antagonistic QTLs were more frequent in intra- than in interspecific crosses and in morphological than in physiological traits. These results indicate that transgressive segregation provides a general mechanism for the production of extreme phenotypes at both above and below the species level and testify to the possible creative part of hybridization in adaptive evolution and speciation.

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