Adaptive nature of chromosomal rearrangement: differential fitness in pocket gophers
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A chromosomal centric fusion polymorphism in populations of the plains pocket gopher, Geomys bursarius, was studied to determine the relative fitness associated with the karyotypic phenotypes. There was a greater number of heterozygous individuals than expected χ12=8.58, P=0.001. Calculations indicate that the viabilities of the two chromosomal homozygotes were only 35 and 76 percent or that of the heterozygote. Differences in fitness values for the chromosomal morphs for Geomys strongly emphasize the possible adaptive nature of the karyotype and provides a primary mechanism for chromosomal evolution, even in species composed of demes of relatively large size. This is the first case of positive chromosomal heterosis in vertebrates. The plains pocket gopher can now be added to the few empirically documented samples of balanced polymorphism.
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