Non-Adaptive Characters

Abstract

IN reply to my letter asking Dr. Ford whether he had stated at last year's British Association meeting that, in his opinion, no character can ever have a neutral survival value, he stated that it was genes and not characters to which he referred. But he made two distinct statements. In the first, he stated that “genes … must very seldom [my italics] be of neutral survival value”. This can only mean that sometimes a gene can have a neutral survival value. In the second statement, he says “… every one of these genes has a detectable influence on the viability of the organism”, and this means that a gene can never have a neutral survival value. Will Dr. Ford tell us which of these statements is correct, for this was the very point on which certain competent geneticists asked unsuccessfully for further information at the Section D meeting? At the same time, will Dr. Ford explain what it is that he means by the adaptation of a gene? The adaptation of a character is something which is easily understood by all biologists; but the conception of adaptation of a gene is surely something that requires further explanation.

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CANNON, H. Non-Adaptive Characters. Nature 165, 575 (1950) doi:10.1038/165575a0

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