Darwin's The Origin of Species demonstrated the value of systematic and biogeographic studies and, as a result, the analysis of genetic variation within and between species has continued to be a major research focus of evolutionÂ ary biologists for more than a century. Population biologists focused their efforts on morphological characters until the 1 960s, when the application of protein electrophoresis uncovered a wealth of unexpected genetic variation. Subsequent biogeographical studies sometimes revealed directional changes in gene frequency (i. e. clines; 44) correlated with one or more environmental parameters. Although these authors touted such studies as evidence for natural selection, other researchers suggested alternate mechanisms. Over the next two decades, the extent of the genetic variation uncovered by p rotein electrophoresis was so great that questions arose concerning the significance, or lack thereof, of these polymorphic loci. In fact, few subjects in biology have been more strongly debated than the evolutionary significance of p rotein polymorphisms. Most of the debate centered around two contrastÂ ing views: the "selectionist" and the "neutralist." Proponents of the selectionÂ ists ' school asserted that natural selection maintains protein polymorphisms, whereas those of the neutralists' persuasion argued that the vast maj ority of
Annual Review of Genetics – Annual Reviews
Published: Dec 1, 1991
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