Extinction time and age of an allele in a large finite population

Theor Popul Biol. 2002 May;61(3):311-8. doi: 10.1006/tpbi.2002.1576.


For a single locus with two alleles we study the expected extinction and fixation times of the alleles under the influence of selection and genetic drift. Using a diffusion model we derive asymptotic approximations for these expected exit times for large populations. We consider the case where the fitness of the heterozygote is in between the fitnesses of the homozygotes (incomplete dominance). The asymptotic analysis not only yields new quantitative results but also reveals interesting features that remain hidden in the exact solution. Some of the outcomes are extensions of results known in the literature. The asymptotic approximations also apply to the expected first arrival time of an allele at a specified frequency and to the expected age of an allele.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Alleles*
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genetics, Population
  • Models, Genetic
  • Population Dynamics
  • Selection, Genetic*