Contribution of direct and maternal genetic effects to life-history evolution

Laura F. Galloway, Julie R. Etterson, Joel W. McGlothlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Maternal effects are ubiquitous in nature. In plants, most work has focused on the effects of maternal environments on offspring trait expression. Less is known about the prevalence of genetic maternal effects and how they influence adaptive evolution. Here, we used multivariate genetic models to estimate the contributions of maternal and direct genetic (co)variance, the cross-generation direct-maternal covariance, and M, the matrix of maternal effect coefficients, for life-history traits in Campanulastrum americanum, a monocarpic herb. • Following a three-generation breeding design, we grew paternal half-sib families with full-sib relatives of each parent and measured juvenile and adult traits. • Seed size was influenced exclusively by maternal environmental effects, whereas maternal genetic effects influenced traits throughout the life cycle, including strong direct and maternal additive genetic correlations within and between generations for phenological and size traits. Examination of M suggested that both juvenile and adult traits in maternal plants influenced the expression of offspring traits. • This study reveals substantial potential for genetic maternal effects to contribute to adaptive evolution including cross-generation direct-maternal correlations that may slow selection response, maternal effects on phenology that reinforce genetic correlations, and within- and between-generation genetic correlations that may influence life-history polymorphism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)826-838
Number of pages13
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009


  • Direct-maternal covariance
  • Genetic correlations
  • Genetics of life-history traits
  • Heritability
  • Indirect genetic effects
  • Maternal effects
  • Maternal inheritance
  • Phenology


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