Developmental Stability Covaries with Genome-Wide and Single-Locus Heterozygosity in House Sparrows
by Carl Vangestel, Joachim Mergeay, Deborah A. Dawson, Viki Vandomme, Luc Lens
Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), a measure of developmental instability, has been hypothesized to increase with genetic stress. Despite numerous studies providing empirical evidence for associations between FA and genome-wide properties such as multi-locus heterozygosity, support for single-locus effects remains scant. Here we test if, and to what extent, FA co-varies with single- and multilocus markers of genetic diversity in house sparrow (Passer domesticus) populations along an urban gradient. In line with theoretical expectations, FA was inversely correlated with genetic diversity estimated at genome level. However, this relationship was largely driven by variation at a single key locus. Contrary to our expectations, relationships between FA and genetic diversity were not stronger in individuals from urban populations that experience higher nutritional stress. We conclude that loss of genetic diversity adversely affects developmental stability in P. domesticus, and more generally, that the molecular basis of developmental stability may involve complex interactions between local and genome-wide effects. Further study on the relative effects of single-locus and genome-wide effects on the developmental stability of populations with different genetic properties is therefore needed.
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