Genetical Research

Research Article

The maintenance of genetic variability by mutation in a polygenic character with linked loci

Russell Landea1

a1 Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. 02138, U.S.A.


It is assumed that a character under stabilizing selection is determined genetically by n linked, mutable loci with additive effects and a range of many possible allelic effects at each locus. A general qualitative feature of such systems is that the genetic variance for the character is independent of the linkage map of the loci, provided linkage is not very tight. A particular detailed model shows that certain aspects of the genetic system are moulded by stabilizing selection while others are selectively neutral. With reference to experimental data on characters of Drosophila flies, maize, and mice, it is concluded that large amounts of genetic variation can be maintained by mutation in polygenic characters even when there is strong stabilizing selection. The properties of the model are compared with those of heterotic models with linked loci.

(Received February 17 1975)