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Genetic variance components and heritability of multiallelic heterozygosity under inbreeding


Nietlisbach, Pirmin; Keller, Lukas F; Postma, Erik (2016). Genetic variance components and heritability of multiallelic heterozygosity under inbreeding. Heredity, 116:1-11.

Abstract

The maintenance of genetic diversity in fitness-related traits remains a central topic in evolutionary biology, for example, in the context of sexual selection for genetic benefits. Among the solutions that have been proposed is directional sexual selection for heterozygosity. The importance of such selection is highly debated. However, a critical evaluation requires knowledge of the heritability of heterozygosity, a quantity that is rarely estimated in this context, and often assumed to be zero. This is at least partly the result of the lack of a general framework that allows for its quantitative prediction in small and inbred populations, which are the focus of most empirical studies. Moreover, while current predictors are applicable only to biallelic loci, fitness-relevant loci are often multiallelic, as are the neutral markers typically used to estimate genome-wide heterozygosity. To this end, we first review previous, but little-known, work showing that under most circumstances, heterozygosity at biallelic loci and in the absence of inbreeding is heritable. We then derive the heritability of heterozygosity and the underlying variances for multiple alleles and any inbreeding level. We also show that heterozygosity at multiallelic loci can be highly heritable when allele frequencies are unequal, and that this heritability is reduced by inbreeding. Our quantitative genetic framework can provide new insights into the evolutionary dynamics of heterozygosity in inbred and outbred populations.

Abstract

The maintenance of genetic diversity in fitness-related traits remains a central topic in evolutionary biology, for example, in the context of sexual selection for genetic benefits. Among the solutions that have been proposed is directional sexual selection for heterozygosity. The importance of such selection is highly debated. However, a critical evaluation requires knowledge of the heritability of heterozygosity, a quantity that is rarely estimated in this context, and often assumed to be zero. This is at least partly the result of the lack of a general framework that allows for its quantitative prediction in small and inbred populations, which are the focus of most empirical studies. Moreover, while current predictors are applicable only to biallelic loci, fitness-relevant loci are often multiallelic, as are the neutral markers typically used to estimate genome-wide heterozygosity. To this end, we first review previous, but little-known, work showing that under most circumstances, heterozygosity at biallelic loci and in the absence of inbreeding is heritable. We then derive the heritability of heterozygosity and the underlying variances for multiple alleles and any inbreeding level. We also show that heterozygosity at multiallelic loci can be highly heritable when allele frequencies are unequal, and that this heritability is reduced by inbreeding. Our quantitative genetic framework can provide new insights into the evolutionary dynamics of heterozygosity in inbred and outbred populations.

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3 citations in Web of Science®
4 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2016
Deposited On:14 Jan 2016 10:20
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 19:52
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:0018-067X
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/hdy.2015.59

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