, Volume 89, Issue 1–3, pp 47–65 | Cite as

Enzyme heterozygosity, metabolism, and developmental stability

  • Jeffry B. Mitton


Developmental homeostasis, measured as either fluctuating asymmetry or variance of morphological characters, increases with enzyme heterozygosity in many, but not all, natural populations. These results have been reported forDrosophila, monarch butterflies, honeybees, blue mussels, side-blotched lizards, killifish, salmonid fishes, guppies, Sonoran topminnows, herring, rufous-collared sparrows, house sparrows, brown hares, white-tailed deer, and humans. Because heterozygosity at a few loci can not predict heterozygosity of the entiry genome, these loci must be detecting localized zones that influence the developmental environment.

Studies of malate dehydrogenase in honeybees,Apis mellifera, and lactate dehydrogenase in killifish,Fundulus heteroclitus, revealed that developmental homeostasis varied with heterozygosity of individual loci. Heterozygotes differed from homozygotes in fluctuating asymmetry, morphological variance, and in correlations between morphological characters.

The protein loci in these studies code for enzymes, and therefore do not directly influence morphological characters. However, some enzymatic loci substantially influence metabolism, and contribute to variation in the amount of energy available for development and growth. This argument can be made most convincingly for the LDH polymorphism in killifish. LDH genotypes differ in enzyme kinetic properties that measure differences in physiological efficiency, and these differences produce measurable and predictable differences in physiology and development. Under environmental conditions which impose a stress upon development, genotypes at these loci may have different amounts of energy available for development, and consequently exhibit different levels of developmental homeostasis.

Key words

developmental homeostasis enzyme heterozygosity physiological efficiency routine metabolic cost 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffry B. Mitton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental, Population, and Organismic BiologyThe University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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