Article ID: CBB129054901

Richard Lewontin and the “Complications of Linkage” (2021)


During the 1960s and 1970s population geneticists pushed beyond models of single genes to grapple with the effect on evolution of multiple genes associated by linkage. The resulting models of multiple interacting loci suggested that blocks of genes, maybe even entire chromosomes or the genome itself, should be treated as a unit. In this context, Richard Lewontin wrote his famous 1974 book The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change, which concludes with an argument for considering the entire genome as the unit of selection as a result of linkage. Why did Lewontin and others devote so much intellectual energy to the “complications of linkage” in the 1960s and 1970s? We argue that this attention to linkage should be understood in the context of research on chromosomal inversions and co-adapted gene complexes that occupied mid-century evolutionary genetics. For Lewontin, the complications of linkage were an extension of this chromosomal focus expressed in the new language of models for linkage disequilibrium.

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Authors & Contributors
Skipper, Robert Alan, Jr.
Richardson, Sarah S.
Chadarevian, Soraya de
Grodwohl, Jean-Baptiste
Hatakeyama, Sumiko
Wapner, Jessica
Journal of the History of Biology
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society
Perspectives on Science
University of Chicago Press
The Experiment, LLC
Oxford University Press
Indiana University
University of Pennsylvania
Population genetics
Human genetics
Models and modeling in science
Wright, Sewall
Jacob, François
Fisher, Ronald Aylmer
Miller, Oscar R.
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
United States
Human Genome Project
Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission

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