The effects of admixture and population subdivision on cytonuclear disequilibria

Theor Popul Biol. 1991 Jun;39(3):273-300. doi: 10.1016/0040-5809(91)90024-a.


We examine the generation of cytonuclear disequilibria by admixture and continued gene flow. General formulas analogous to the nuclear case are first derived showing that the allelic and genotypic disequilibria from admixture or population subdivision equal their expected value across the contributing (sub) populations plus the covariance across these sources between the cytoplasmic gene frequency and the relevant nuclear frequency. A detailed study is then presented of the cytonuclear dynamics, in a random-mating population under two different migration scenarios. In both cases closed-form solutions are given for all variables as a function of the initial conditions and relevant migration parameters. The dynamics of the gene frequencies and allelic disequilibria, which dominate each system, are the same as those involving two unlinked nuclear loci, while the dynamics of the genotypic disequilibria and cytonuclear frequencies have no nuclear counterpart. The continent-island formulation focuses on a population receiving continued immigration from a large source of constant composition. A major discovery is that cytonuclear disequilibria can transiently build up on the "island" to levels far exceeding those found at equilibrium. In contrast, the admixture formulation focuses on the dynamics within two populations undergoing continued intermigration. Although in this case all cytonuclear associations must ultimately decay to zero, long-term transient disequilibria can develop which are many times their initial admixture values. For both migration scenarios it is shown that the time of population censusing relative to migration and reproduction dramatically affects both the amount and pattern of the nonrandom associations produced. The empirical relevance of these models is discussed in light of nuclear-mitochondrial data from a hybrid zone between European and North American eels and from a zone of racial admixture in humans.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Cell Nucleus*
  • Gene Frequency / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic