Dominance reversals: the resolution of genetic conflict and maintenance of genetic variation

Karl Grieshop, Eddie K. H. Ho, Katja R. Kasimatis

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Beneficial reversals of dominance reduce the costs of genetic trade-offs and can enable selection to maintain genetic variation for fitness. Beneficial dominance reversals are characterized by the beneficial allele for a given context (e.g. habitat, developmental stage, trait or sex) being dominant in that context but recessive where deleterious. This context dependence at least partially mitigates the fitness consequence of heterozygotes carrying one non-beneficial allele for their context and can result in balancing selection that maintains alternative alleles. Dominance reversals are theoretically plausible and are supported by mounting empirical evidence. Here, we highlight the importance of beneficial dominance reversals as a mechanism for the mitigation of genetic conflict and review the theory and empirical evidence for them. We identify some areas in need of further research and development and outline three methods that could facilitate the identification of antagonistic genetic variation (dominance ordination, allele-specific expression and allele-specific ATAC-Seq (assay for transposase-accessible chromatin with sequencing)). There is ample scope for the development of new empirical methods as well as reanalysis of existing data through the lens of dominance reversals. A greater focus on this topic will expand our understanding of the mechanisms that resolve genetic conflict and whether they maintain genetic variation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number20232816
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number2018
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2024


  • antagonistic pleiotropy
  • balancing selection
  • dominance reversal
  • genetic conflict
  • genetic trade-offs
  • genetic variation

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