Authors: D. Wool 1 and T. Agami
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The phenotypic distribution of esterase (EST) activity (measured colorimetrically) among individual flour beetles (Tribolium confusum Duv.) seems continuous, suggesting polygenic inheritance. Narrow-sense heritability esti- mates were around 0.45. A pilot, hierarchical crossing experiment indicated that the sire contributed significantly to the differences in EST activity among the offspring, while the dam (within sire) component was negligible. Family selection for high (H) EST activity & using the activity in the male parent as the criterion for selection & increased the population mean 8-fold in five generations. Selection for low (L) activity unexpectedly resulted in increased mean activity. Electrophoretic examination after termination of selection showed that one of five EST isozymes contributed most of the esterolytic activity in individual beetles. The increase in frequency of individuals carrying this high-activity isozyme in the H line was the reason for the increase of mean activity in that line. In L, most individu- als had a weak-staining isozyme instead. The allelic difference at one locus is translated into the observed continu- ous phenotypic variation in activity among individuals. Theoretical considerations of the pilot experiment suggest that, in addition to autosomal, Mendelian inheritance of the H allele, a negative, non-Mendelian cytoplasmic factor is involved in the inheritance of EST activity in T. confusum. This suggestion is supported by the opposite effect of male and female parents on offspring EST activity in the L line.

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