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An Evolutionary Genetic Framework for Heritable Disorders

  1. Matthew C Keller

Published Online: 15 JUL 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0020809



How to Cite

Keller, M. C. 2008. An Evolutionary Genetic Framework for Heritable Disorders. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2008


Natural selection is expected to drive the frequencies of heritable, fitness-harming states to very low levels, yet many heritable disorders – and especially mental disorder – are common in the human population. These two statements are sometimes interpreted to imply that disorders have not been under natural selection, but this need not be the case. Evolutionary genetics provides three broad classes of models, none of them mutually exclusive, for understanding why disorder risk alleles have persisted in the human population despite natural selection.


  • mental disorders;
  • genetics;
  • evolution;
  • mutation-selection;
  • balancing-selection;
  • schizophrenia