Molecular basis of evolutionary adaptation at the lactate dehydrogenase-B locus in the fish Fundulus heteroclitus

D. L. Crawford, D. A. Powers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


At the extremes of its natural distribution, populations of the common killifish Fundulus heteroclitus experience a difference of more than 15°C in mean annual temperature. These populations are virtually fixed for two different codominant alleles at the heart-type lactate dehydrogenase locus (Ldh-B) which code for allozymes with different and adaptive kinetic responses to temperature. Two populations near the extremes of the species range (i.e., Maine and Georgia) were further studied for thermal adaptation at this locus. In the absence of any kinetic differences one would predict that to maintain a constant reaction velocity, 2 to 3 times as much enzyme would be required for each 10°C decrease in environmental temperature. Consistent with this adaptive strategy and in addition to the adaptive kinetic characteristics, the LDH-B4 enzyme (EC concentration and its mRNA concentration were approximately twice as great in the northern population as in the southern population. Acclimation experiments allow us to conclude that these differences are due to a combination of fixed genetic traits (evolutionary adaptation) and plastic responses to temperature (physiological acclimation). Furthermore, our calculations show that the LDH-B4 reaction velocities are essentially equivalent for these two populations, even though they live in significantly different thermal environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9365-9369
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number23
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • acclimation
  • reaction rate
  • specific activity
  • thermal adaptation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • General


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