Evolutionary endocrinology: The developing synthesis between endocrinology and evolutionary genetics

Anthony J. Zera, Lawrence G. Harshman, Tony D. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


A productive synthesis of endocrinology and evolutionary genetics has occurred during the past two decades, resulting in the first direct documentation of genetic variation and correlation for endocrine regulators in nondomesticated animals. In a number of insect genetic polymorphisms (dispersal polymorphism in crickets, butterfly wing-pattern polymorphism), blood levels of ecdysteroids and juvenile hormone covary with morphology, development, and life history. Genetic variation in insulin signaling may underlie life history trade-offs in Drosophila. Vertebrate studies identified variation in brain neurohormones, bone-regulating hormones, and hormone receptor gene sequences that underlie ecologically important genetic polymorphisms. Most work to date has focused on genetically variable titers (concentrations) of circulating hormones and the activities of titer regulators. Continued progress will require greater integration among (a) traditional comparative endocrine approaches (e.g., titer measures); (b) molecular studies of hormone receptors and intracellular signaling pathways; and (c) fitness studies of genetically variable endocrine traits in ecologically appropriate conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-817
Number of pages25
JournalAnnual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Artificial selection
  • Development
  • Hormone
  • Life history
  • Polymorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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