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Dominance and overdominance of mildly deleterious induced mutations for fitness traits in Caenorhabditis elegans.

The Genetics Society of America
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  • Research Article


We estimated the average dominance coefficient of mildly deleterious mutations (h, the proportion by which mutations in the heterozygous state reduce fitness components relative to those in the homozygous state) in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. From 56 worm lines that carry mutations induced by the point mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate (EMS), we selected 19 lines that are relatively high in fitness and estimated the viabilities, productivities, and relative fitnesses of heterozygotes and homozygotes compared to the ancestral wild type. There was very little effect of homozygous or heterozygous mutations on egg-to-adult viability. For productivity and relative fitness, we found that the average dominance coefficient, h, was approximately 0.1, suggesting that mildly deleterious mutations are on average partially recessive. These estimates were not significantly different from zero (complete recessivity) but were significantly different from 0.5 (additivity). In addition, there was a significant amount of variation in h among lines, and analysis of average dominance coefficients of individual lines suggested that several lines showed overdominance for fitness. Further investigation of two of these lines partially confirmed this finding.

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