Fitness effects of mutation accumulation in a natural outbred population of wild radish (Raphanus raphanistrum): comparison of field and greenhouse environments

Evolution. 2008 May;62(5):1066-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00354.x. Epub 2008 Feb 21.


Spontaneous deleterious mutation has been measured in a handful of organisms, always under laboratory conditions and usually employing inbred species or genotypes. We report the results of a mutation accumulation experiment with an outbred annual plant, Raphanus raphanistrum, with lifetime fitness measured in both the field and the greenhouse. This is the first study to report the effects of spontaneous mutation measured under field conditions. Two large replicate populations (N(e) approximately 600) were maintained with random mating in the greenhouse under relaxed selection for nine generations before the field assay was performed and ten generations before the greenhouse assay. Each generation, every individual was mated twice, once as a pollen donor and once as a pollen recipient, and a single seed from each plant was chosen randomly to create the next generation. The ancestral population was maintained as seeds at 4 degrees C. Declines in lifetime fitness were observed in both the field (1.7% per generation; P= 0.27) and the greenhouse (0.6% per generation; P= 0.07). Significant increases in additive genetic variance for fitness were found for stems per day, flowers per stem, fruits per flower and seeds per fruit in the field as well as for fruits per flower in the greenhouse. Lack of significance of the fitness decline may be due to the short period of mutation accumulation, the use of outbred populations, or both. The percent declines in fitness are at the high end of the range observed in other mutation accumulation experiments and give some support to the idea that mutational effects may be magnified under harsher field conditions. Thus, measurement of mutational parameters under laboratory conditions may underestimate the effects of mutations in natural populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breeding
  • Environment*
  • Environment, Controlled
  • Fertility / genetics
  • Fertility / physiology
  • Genetic Variation
  • Mutation / genetics*
  • Raphanus / genetics*
  • Raphanus / growth & development
  • Raphanus / physiology*