The transcriptional architecture of phenotypic dimorphism



The profound differences in gene expression between the sexes are increasingly used to study the molecular basis of sexual dimorphism, sexual selection and sexual conflict. Studies of transcriptional architecture, based on comparisons of gene expression, have also been implemented for a wide variety of other intra-specific polymorphisms. These efforts are based on key assumptions regarding the relationship between transcriptional architecture, phenotypic variation and the target of selection. Some of these assumptions are better supported by available evidence than others. In all cases, the evidence is largely circumstantial, leaving considerable gaps in our understanding of the relationship between transcriptional and phenotypic dimorphism.

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Figure 1: Correlation between male and female expression in red junglefowl.
Figure 2: Regulatory complexity.


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I am extremely grateful for generous support from the European Research Council (grant agreements 260233 and 680951), and discussion of these topics over the past few years with members of the lab, particularly R. Dean, A. Wright, V. Oostra, S. Montgomery and N. Block.

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Correspondence to Judith E. Mank.

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Mank, J. The transcriptional architecture of phenotypic dimorphism. Nat Ecol Evol 1, 0006 (2017).

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