Testing hypotheses regarding the genetics of adaptation

Genetica. 2005 Feb;123(1-2):15-24. doi: 10.1007/s10709-004-2704-1.


Many of the hypotheses regarding the genetics of adaptation require that one know specific details about the genetic basis of complex traits, such as the number and effects of the loci involved. Developments in molecular biology have made it possible to create relatively dense maps of markers that can potentially be used to map genes underlying specific traits. However, there are a number of reasons to doubt that such mapping will provide the level of resolution necessary to specifically address many evolutionary questions. Moreover, evolutionary change is built upon the substitution of individual mutations, many of which may now be cosegregating in the same allele. In order for this developing area not to become a mirage that traps the efforts of an entire field, the genetic dissection of adaptive traits should be conducted within a strict hypothesis-testing framework and within systems that promise a reasonable chance of identifying the specific genetic changes of interest. Continuing advances in molecular technology may lead the way here, but some form of genetic testing is likely to be forever required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Drosophila
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Models, Genetic
  • Quantitative Trait Loci
  • Selection, Genetic*