Biometrical Genetics: The study of continuous variation by Kenneth Mather C.B.E., D.Sc., F.R.S., John L. Jinks D.Sc.,

By Kenneth Mather C.B.E., D.Sc., F.R.S., John L. Jinks D.Sc., F.R.S. (auth.)

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Extra resources for Biometrical Genetics: The study of continuous variation

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Quantitative differences of the kind wh ich experience has shown typically to be under polygenic control, commonly occur between individuals and strains which are not differentiated by any detectable major gene, even in the most intensively studied animals and plants. It has been alleged that the major differences have not been found in these cases because they are affecting unrecognized characters; but such a postulate is mere evasion. It must remain no more than a strained attempt to save an unnecessary and unjustifiable hypothesis, wh ich can be given no credence at any rate until such time as the cryptic major differences have been exposed and analysed in at least one case.

As Lwoff (1962) points out, however, there is a difference between the cells of the multicellular organisms and the microbial cell, from which most of our recent information has stemmed. I t is a long step from these primary, or near primary, actions of the genes in a single cell to the complexity of their ultimate expression in a multicellular soma, where there is interplay between the differentiated cells themselves as weIl as between materials within each of them. It is therefore clear that while a given phenotype, taken as a whole, can be related to a given genotype, acting as a whole, no similar correspondence can be assumed between the parts of the phenotype and the parts of the genotype: the genes of a nucleus must be related to one another in action and the characters must be related to one another in development.

It must remain no more than a strained attempt to save an unnecessary and unjustifiable hypothesis, wh ich can be given no credence at any rate until such time as the cryptic major differences have been exposed and analysed in at least one case. Setting pleiotropy aside, therefore, as at best marginal to our consideration, we may nevertheless recognize that a given genic structure may be capable on different occasions of two kinds of change, one leading to a greater and more specific change of action, from wh ich a major gene is inferred, and the other to a small and less specific change of action, from which a polygene is inferred.

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