Evolutionary transitions from indirect to direct development involve changes in both maternal and zygotic genetic factors, with distinctive population-genetic implications, but empirical data on the genetics of such transitions are lacking. The polychaete Streblospio benedicti provides an opportunity to dissect a major transition in developmental mode using forward genetics. Females in this species produce either small eggs that develop into planktonic larvae or large eggs that develop into benthic juveniles. We identify large-effect loci that act maternally to influence larval size and independent, unlinked large-effect loci that act zygotically to affect discrete aspects of larval morphology. The likely fitness of zygotic alleles depends on their maternal background, creating a positive frequency-dependence that may homogenize local populations. Developmental and population genetics interact to shape larval evolution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)