The effects of genetic drift in experimental evolution

Theor Popul Biol. 2002 Dec;62(4):349-56. doi: 10.1016/s0040-5809(02)00002-3.


Experimental evolution is characterized by exponential or logistic growth and periodic population bottlenecks. The fate of a rare beneficial mutation in these systems is influenced both by the bottleneck effect and by genetic drift. This paper explores the effects of incorporating genetic drift into models of fixation probability in populations with periodic bottlenecks. To model the inherent stochasticity during the growth phase in these populations, we assume a Poisson distribution of offspring. An analytical solution is developed to calculate the fixation probability and a computer simulation is used to verify the results. We find that the fixation rate of a favourable mutant is significantly lower when genetic drift is considered; fixation probability is reduced by over 25% for realistic experimental protocols. Our method is valid for both weak and strong selection; since very large selection coefficients have been reported in the experimental literature, this is an important improvement over previous results.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Genetic Drift*
  • Mutation
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Population Density
  • Probability