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Heterozygosity and developmental stability: another look.

abstract1 (full description below): Evolution 33: 396-401.
Heterozygosity and developmental stability. PDF/Acrobat file     SoulĂ©, M. E.

In his famous monograph, Lerner (1954) argued for the importance of heterozygosity in the fitness of plants and animals. Since then, data have continued to accumulate showing that fitness always declines upon inbreeding, at least in outcrossing species, although the reason for the decline is still debated (Wright, 1977). In contrast, the benefits of hcterozygosity in non-inbreeding natural populations are still in doubt. While there is some evidence that survivorship may sometimes depend on heterozygosity (Koehn et al., 1973; Chaisson et al., 1976; Watt, 1977; Singh and Zouros, 1978), it remains a completely open question whether there is a correlation in natural populations between fitness and heterozygosity. That is, are individuals in highly heterozygous populations more fit than individuals in less heterozygous populations? Two requirements must be met in order to search for such a correlation: first, the populations that are being tested must be closely related but have significantly different levels of heterozygosity; second, a way to estimate fitness must be chosen.