Properties of spontaneous mutations affecting quantitative traits

Genet Res. 1999 Dec;74(3):341-50. doi: 10.1017/s0016672399004206.


Recent mutation accumulation results from invertebrate species suggest that mild deleterious mutation is far less frequent than previously thought, implying smaller expressed mutational loads. Although the rate (lambda) and effect (s) of very slight deleterious mutation remain unknown, most mutational fitness decline would come from moderately deleterious mutation (s approximately 0.2, lambda approximately 0.03), and this situation would not qualitatively change in harsh environments. Estimates of the average coefficient of dominance (h) of non-severe deleterious mutations are controversial. The typical value of h = 0.4 can be questioned, and a lower estimate (about 0.1) is suggested. Estimated mutational parameters are remarkably alike for morphological and fitness component traits (excluding lethals), indicating low mutation rates and moderate mutational effects, with a distribution generally showing strong negative asymmetry and little leptokurtosis. New mutations showed considerable genotype-environment interaction. However, the mutational variance of fitness-component traits due to non-severe detrimental mutations did not increase with environmental harshness. For morphological traits, a class of predominantly additive mutations with no detectable effect on fitness and relatively small effect on the trait was identified. This should be close to that responsible for standing variation in natural populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Humans
  • Mutation*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*