Authorship alphabetical; authors contributed equally.
Colour polymorphism and correlated characters: genetic mechanisms and evolution
Article first published online: 11 OCT 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 19, Issue 23, pages 5101–5125, December 2010
How to Cite
MCKINNON, J. S. and PIEROTTI, M. E. R. (2010), Colour polymorphism and correlated characters: genetic mechanisms and evolution. Molecular Ecology, 19: 5101–5125. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04846.x
- Issue published online: 22 NOV 2010
- Article first published online: 11 OCT 2010
- Received 14 May 2010; revision received 18 August 2010; accepted 25 August 2010
- colour polymorphism;
Colour polymorphisms (CP’s) continue to be of interest to evolutionary biologists because of their general tractability, importance in studies of selection and potential role in speciation. Since some of the earliest studies of CP, it has been evident that alternative colour morphs often differ in features other than colour. Here we review the rapidly accumulating evidence concerning the genetic mechanisms underlying correlations between CP and other traits in animals. We find that evidence for genetic correlations is now available for taxonomically diverse systems and that physical linkage and regulatory mechanisms including transcription factors, cis-regulatory elements, and hormone systems provide pathways for the ready accumulation or modification of these correlations. Moreover, physical linkage and regulatory mechanisms may both contribute to genetic correlation in some of the best-studied systems. These results raise the possibility that negative frequency-dependent selection and disruptive selection might often be acting on suites of traits and that the cumulative effects of such selection, as well as correlational selection, may be important to CP persistence and evolution. We consider additional evolutionary implications. We recommend continued efforts to elucidate the mechanisms underlying CP-correlated characters and the more frequent application of comparative approaches, looking at related species that vary in character correlations and patterns of selection. We also recommend efforts to elucidate how frequency-dependent selection may act on suites of characters.