Heterozygosity-fitness correlations (HFCs) have been reported in populations of many species. We provide evidence for a positive correlation between genetic variability and growth rate at 12 allozyme loci in a catadromous marine fish species, the European eel (Anguilla anguilla L.). More heterozygous individuals show a significantly higher length and weight increase and an above average condition index in comparison with more homozygous individuals. To a lesser extent, six microsatellite loci show a similar pattern, with positive but not significant correlations between heterozygosity and growth rate. The HFCs observed could be explained by an effect of either direct allozyme overdominance or associative overdominance. Selection affecting some of the allozyme loci would explain the greater strength of the HFCs found at allozymes in comparison with microsatellites and the lack of correlation between MLH at allozymes and MLH at microsatellites. Associative overdominance (where allozyme loci are merely acting as neutral markers of closely linked fitness loci) might provide an explanation for the HFCs if we consider that allozyme loci have a higher chance than microsatellites to be in linkage disequilibrium with fitness loci.
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Vol. 59 • No. 1