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Nat Rev Genet. 2008 Jun;9(6):421-32. doi: 10.1038/nrg2339.

Detecting genetic responses to environmental change.

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Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research, Bio21 Institute, Department of Genetics, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Australia.


Changes in environmental conditions can rapidly shift allele frequencies in populations of species with relatively short generation times. Frequency shifts might be detectable in neutral genetic markers when stressful conditions cause a population decline. However, frequency shifts that are diagnostic of specific conditions depend on isolating sets of genes that are involved in adaptive responses. Shifts at candidate loci underlying adaptive responses and DNA regions that control their expression have now been linked to evolutionary responses to pollution, global warming and other changes. Conversely, adaptive constraints, particularly in physiological traits, are recognized through DNA decay in candidate genes. These approaches help researchers and conservation managers understand the power and constraints of evolution.

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