Lethals in subdivided populations

Genet Res. 2005 Aug;86(1):41-51. doi: 10.1017/S0016672305007676.


The fate of lethal alleles in populations is of interest in evolutionary and conservation biology for several reasons. For instance, lethals may contribute substantially to inbreeding depression. The frequency of lethal alleles depends on population size, but it is not clear how it is affected by population structure. By analysing the case of the infinite island model by numerical approaches and analytical approximations it is shown that, like population size, population structure affects the fate of lethal alleles if dominance levels are low. Inbreeding depression caused by such alleles is also affected by the population structure, whereas the mutation load is only weakly affected. Heterosis also depends on population structure, but it always remains low, of the order of the mutation rate or less. These patterns are compared with those caused by mildly deleterious mutations to give a general picture of the effect of population structure on inbreeding depression, heterosis, and the mutation load.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Load
  • Genetics, Population / methods*
  • Hybrid Vigor
  • Inbreeding
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Mutation
  • Population Density
  • Population Dynamics