What is the evidence for heterozygote advantage selection?

Trends Ecol Evol. 2012 Dec;27(12):698-704. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2012.08.012. Epub 2012 Sep 10.


Recent genomic data have found that many genes show the signal of selection. How many of these genes are undergoing heterozygote advantage selection is only beginning to be known. Initial genomic surveys have suggested that only a small proportion of loci have polymorphisms maintained by heterozygote advantage and this is consistent with the few examples generated from other approaches within given species. Unless further studies provide large numbers of loci with heterozygote advantage, it appears that loci with heterozygote advantage must be considered only a small minority of all loci in a species. This is not to say that some heterozygote advantage loci do not have important adaptive functions, but that their role in overall evolutionary change might be more of an unusual phenomenon than a major player in adaptation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Heterozygote*
  • Mutation
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Selection, Genetic*