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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Nov 15;89(22):10608-12.

Eggs, enzymes, and evolution: natural genetic variants change insect fecundity.

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Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, Crested Butte, CO 81224.


Phosphoglucose isomerase genotypes in the butterfly Colias differ dramatically in biochemical properties. These differences were evaluated earlier, using metabolic network theory, to predict, successfully, their effects on glycolytic metabolism and hence on Colias flight capacity and several consequent fitness components in the wild. Female egg-laying, not previously studied, also depends on flight, so female fecundity is now predicted to differ among these genotypes. An experimental design incorporating the thermal ecology of Colias confirms these predictions in a cool habitat. Thus female fecundity differences among animal enzyme polymorphs have now been found. Quantitative reconstruction of the selection regime for phosphoglucose isomerase genotypes in Colias can now begin. The most heat-stable genotypes are the least fecund, suggesting that global warming, if it occurs, may have severe impacts, through population genetics, on demography of thermally sensitive creatures.

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