The effect of population bottlenecks on the mean and the additive variance generated by two neutral independent epistatic loci has been studied theoretically. Six epistatic models, used in the analysis of binary disease traits, were considered. Ancestral values in an infinitely large panmictic population were compared with their expectations at equilibrium, after t consecutive bottlenecks of equal size N (derived values). An increase in the additive variance after bottlenecks (inversely related to N and t) will occur only if the frequencies of the negative allele at each locus are: (1) low, invariably associated to strong inbreeding depression; (2) high, always accompanied by an enhancement of the mean with inbreeding. The latter is an undesirable property, making the pertinent models unsuitable for the genetic analysis of disease. For the epistatic models considered, it is unlikely that the rate of evolution may be accelerated after population bottlenecks, in spite of occasional increments of the derived additive variance over its ancestral value.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.