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Genetics. 1994 May;137(1):221-31.

Allozyme and RFLP heterozygosities as correlates of growth rate in the scallop Placopecten magellanicus: a test of the associative overdominance hypothesis.

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Department of Biology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


Several studies have reported positive correlations between the degree of enzyme heterozygosity and fitness-related traits. Notable among these are the correlations between heterozygosity and growth rate in marine bivalves. Whether the correlation is the result of intrinsic functional differences between enzyme variants at the electrophoretic loci scored or arises from non-random genotypic associations between these loci and others segregating for deleterious recessive genes (the associative overdominance hypothesis) is a matter of continuing debate. A prediction of the associative overdominance hypothesis, not shared by explanations that treat the enzyme loci as causative agents of the correlation, is that the correlation is not specific to the type of genetic marker used. We have tested this prediction by scoring heterozygosity at single locus nuclear restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) in a cohort of juvenile scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) in which growth rate was known to be positively correlated with an individual's degree of allozyme heterozygosity. A total of 222 individuals were scored for their genotypes at seven allozyme loci, two nonspecific protein loci of unknown function and eight nuclear RFLPs detected by anonymous cDNA probes. In contrast to the enzyme loci, no correlation was observed between growth rate and the degree of heterozygosity at the DNA markers. Furthermore, there was no relationship between the magnitude of heterozygote deficiency at a locus and its effect on the correlation. The differences observed between the effects of allozyme and RFLP heterozygosity on growth rate provide evidence against the associative overdominance hypothesis, but a strong case against this explanation must await corroboration from similar studies in different species.

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