A systematic understanding and comprehensive tests of mechanisms maintaining genetic polymorphisms

Yuma Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies of genetic polymorphisms within a population have contributed to two areas fundamental to evolutionary biology: the mechanisms maintaining genetic variation within a population and the evolution of reproductive isolation (i.e., speciation). Various mechanisms and processes that maintain genetic polymorphisms within a population have been proposed, such as negative frequency-dependent selection, overdominant selection, and environmental heterogeneity. However, few experimental studies have confirmed that these processes operate in natural settings, for at least two reasons, (1) lack of understanding of the necessary conditions for protected polymorphism, and (2) incomplete empirical evidence. Here, I present a general review of the possible mechanisms of, and the underlying necessary conditions for, the evolution of protected polymorphisms. Next, I clarify problems in previous empirical studies using the case of negative frequency-dependent selection. Finally, I discuss the importance of a comprehensive approach that demonstrates causal links between the trigger of evolution and resulting evolutionary dynamics, for confirmation of the mechanisms and processes maintaining genetic polymorphisms within a population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-175
Number of pages9
JournalJapanese Journal of Ecology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1


  • Balancing selection
  • Evolutionary dynamics
  • Frequency dependence
  • Intraspecific polymorphism
  • Negative frequency-dependent selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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