Population genetics is a highly theoretical field in which many models and theories of broad significance have received little experimental testing. Microbes are well-suited for empirical population genetics since populations of almost any size may be studied genetically, and because many have easily controlled life cycles. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is almost ideal for such studies as the growing body of knowledge and techniques that have made it the best characterized eukaryote genome also allow the experimental manipulation and analysis of its population genetics. In experiments to date, the evolution of laboratory yeast populations has been observed for up to 1000 generations. In several cases, adaptation has occurred by gene duplications. The interaction between mutation, selection and genetic drift at varying population sizes is a major area of theoretical study in which yeast experiments can provide particularly valuable data. Conflicts between gene-level and among-cell selection, and co-evolution between genes within a genome, are additional topics in which a population genetics perspective may be particularly helpful. The growing field of genomics is increasingly complementary with that of population genetics. The characterization of the yeast genome presents unprecedented opportunities for the detailed study of evolutionary and population genetics. Conversely, the redundancy of the yeast genome means that, for many open reading frames, deletion has only a quantitative effect that is most readily observed in competitions with a wild-type strain.
Copyright 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.