Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A 123:155-162.
Laboratory strains of house mice (Mus domesticus) are increasingly used as model organisms in evolutionary physiology, so information on levels of genetic variation is important. For example, are levels of genetic variation comparable to those found in populations of wild house mice? We studied allozymes to estimate genetic variation in outbred Hsd:ICR mice, which have been used in several studies with evolutionary emphasis. The physiological significance of allozyme variation remains obscure. Several workers have reported relationships between multi-locus heterozygosity and metabolic traits, but endotherms have not been studied. Therefore, we also measured mice for basal metabolic rate (BMR), maximal oxygen consumption during forced treadmill exercise (VO2max), and 12 other traits related to locomotor physiology, before genotyping them for 10 allozyme loci. Four of these loci were polymorphic, all were in Hardy˝Weinberg equilibrium, and inbreeding coefficients were not significantly different from zero. Average heterozygosities were 11%, similar to values reported for wild populations of house mice. Fourteen percent of the associations between single-locus genotype and physiological traits were statistically significant. Multi-locus heterozygosity was not significantly related to VO2max, but was positively correlated with BMR, a result opposite to the negative correlation between standard metabolic rate and heterozygosity reported in many ectotherms. Therefore, the proposed mechanisms for the effect of multi-locus heterozygosity on metabolic rate in ectotherms may not apply to endotherms.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.