Adaptation at specific loci. I. Natural selection on phosphoglucose isomerase of Colias butterflies: Biochemical and population aspects

Genetics. 1977 Sep;87(1):177-94.


Electrophoretic variants of phosphoglucose isomerase (PGI) in Colias butterflies have been studied from field and laboratory viewpoints. The transmission pattern is that of a dimeric enzyme controlled by one structural gene locus. Populations usually harbor four to six allelic mobility classes. These mobility classes are shared among species complexes, though their frequencies differ widely. Preliminary Ferguson plot analysis of the variants has been carried out. Purified preparations of Colias PGI alleles are more effective in standardizing Ferguson plots than heterologous proteins, such as ferritin. Variation of Ferguson plot parameters is not an infallible guide to electrophoretically "cryptic alleles," as one putative case proved to be due to nonallele-specific effects. S, M, and F mobility classes in two Colias semispecies show the same retardation coefficients in Ferguson plots. Adults early in the flight periods of their nonoverlapping generations show genotype frequencies in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, but heterozygote excess develops as the insects age. Simple directional selection and large-scale population mixing are unlikely to be causes of this, although several other selection modes remain possible. Identical-by-descent lines of the four frequent-to-common alleles in C. eurytheme have been set up in culture, and enzyme has been purified from these for study of functional properties. Major differenecs in heat stability and in various kinetic parameters are found among the ten possible genotypes. In some cases, heterosis for kinetic parameters is seen; in other cases, opposing trends in kinetic function and heat stability create potential for net heterosis in function. Possible interpretations of these results in an adaptive metabolic context are discussed, and directions for further work are stated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution*
  • Butterflies / genetics*
  • Butterflies / ultrastructure
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genes*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Glucose-6-Phosphate Isomerase / genetics*
  • Lepidoptera / genetics*


  • Glucose-6-Phosphate Isomerase