Possible consequences of genes of major effect: Transient changes in the G-matrix

  • Aneil F. Agrawal
  • Edmund D. BrodieIII
  • Loren H. Rieseberg
Part of the Contemporary Issues in Genetics and Evolution book series (CIGE, volume 8)


Understanding the process of evolutionary divergence requires knowledge of the strength, form, and targets of selection, as well as the genetic architecture of the divergent traits. Quantitative genetic approaches to understanding multivariate selection and genetic response to selection have proven to be powerful tools in this endeavor, particularly with respect to short-term evolution. However, the application of quantitative genetic theory over periods of substantial phenotypic change is controversial because it requires that the requisite genetic parameters remain constant over the period of time in question. We show herein how attempts to determine the stability of key genetic parameters may be misled by the ‘many genes of small effect’ type of genetic architecture generally assumed in quantitative genetics. The presence of genes of major effect (GOMEs) can alter the genetic variance-covariance matrix dramatically for brief periods of time, significantly alter the rate and trajectory of multivariate evolution, and thereby mislead attempts to reconstruct or predict long term evolution.

Key words

genes of major effect G-matrix constancy QTL analysis quantitative genetics 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aneil F. Agrawal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Edmund D. BrodieIII
    • 1
    • 2
  • Loren H. Rieseberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  2. 2.Center for the Integrative Study of Animal BehaviorIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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