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Proc Biol Sci. 2001 Jan 7;268(1462):9-14.

The effects of diet and physiological stress on the evolutionary dynamics of an enzyme polymorphism.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.


In the northern acorn barnacle Semibalanus balanoides, polymorphism at the mannose-6-phosphate isomerase (Mpi) locus appears to be maintained by distinct selection regimes that vary between intertidal microhabitats. The goal of the present experiment was to elucidate the mechanism of selection at the Mpi locus by examining the relationship between genotype and fitness-related life-history traits in laboratory manipulations. When barnacles were cultured on a mannose-supplemented diet and exposed to thermal stress, different Mpi genotypes exhibited differences in the rate of growth that predicted survivorship. In contrast, no such relationship was observed in control or fructose-supplemented dietary treatments either in the presence or in the absence of stress. Similarly, the phenotype and survivorship of genotypes at another allozyme locus and a presumably neutral mitochondrial DNA marker were homogeneous across all treatments and unaffected by experimental manipulations. These results suggest that the differential survivorship of Mpi genotypes in the field and laboratory results from a differential ability to process mannose-6-phosphate through glycolysis. The widespread polymorphism at Mpi observed in marine taxa may reflect the interaction between dietary composition and environmental heterogeneity in intertidal habitats.

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