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Density- and frequency-dependent selection at the Mdh-2 locus in Drosophila pseudoobscura.

  • Author(s): Tosić, M
  • Ayala, FJ
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

We have studied differences in the number of Drosophila pseudoobscura produced in a culture when the flies differ with respect to two alleles (F and S) at the Mdh-2 locus, which codes for a malate dehydrogenase enzyme. The studies were done at low and at high density in two- and three-genotype combinations (S/S, F/F and S/F), with one-genotype cultures as controls.--Density affects the fitness of the Mdh-2 genotypes. Different genotypes are differently affected, and the genotype of the competitors also makes a difference on the fitness of a given genotype. When three genotypes are present in a culture, particularly at high density, intergenotypic competition is less intense than intragenotypic competition at several frequency combinations. That is, there is "overcompensation": the three genotypes together exploit the environmental resources better than one genotype alone.--The fitness of the genotypes is frequency dependent in both two-genotype and three-genotype combinations. An inverse relationship between frequency and fitness is observed at high density. This may lead to a stable polymorphism, because the fitness of a genotype increases as its frequency decreases.--Forty independent strains, sampled from a natural population, were used in the experiments. This ensures that more than 95% of the variation present in the genome in the natural population is also present in the experimental cultures. It also ensures that the genetic background on the Mdh-2 alleles is randomized in the same way as it is in nature. However, the possibility remains that Mdh-2 alleles in nature are nonrandomly associated with alleles at closely linked loci. If linkage disequilibrium is present in the experiments because it exists in nature, then the observed effects (such as frequency-dependent selection) would affect the Mdh-2 locus in nature as well.

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