Decoupled maternal and zygotic genetic effects shape the evolution of development

Christina Zakas, Jennifer M. Deutscher, Alex D. Kay, Matthew V. Rockman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere37143
StatePublished - Sep 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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