The effect of life-history and mode of inheritance on neutral genetic variability

Genet Res. 2001 Apr;77(2):153-66. doi: 10.1017/s0016672301004979.


Formulae for the effective population sizes of autosomal, X-linked, Y-linked and maternally transmitted loci in age-structured populations are developed. The approximations used here predict both asymptotic rates of increase in probabilities of identity, and equilibrium levels of neutral nucleotide site diversity under the infinite-sites model. The applications of the results to the interpretation of data on DNA sequence variation in Drosophila, plant, and human populations are discussed. It is concluded that sex differences in demographic parameters such as adult mortality rates generally have small effects on the relative effective population sizes of loci with different modes of inheritance, whereas differences between the sexes in variance in reproductive success can have major effects, either increasing or reducing the effective population size for X-linked loci relative to autosomal or Y-linked loci. These effects need to be accounted for when trying to understand data on patterns of sequence variation for genes with different transmission modes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila / genetics*
  • Female
  • Fertility / genetics
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Inbreeding
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Models, Genetic
  • Models, Statistical
  • Plants / genetics*
  • Sex Factors
  • X Chromosome / genetics
  • Y Chromosome / genetics