Effect of parasitic sex-ratio distorters on host gene frequencies in a mainland-island context

J Evol Biol. 2011 Aug;24(8):1695-705. doi: 10.1111/j.1420-9101.2011.02296.x. Epub 2011 May 23.


It was previously argued that infection by parasitic sex-ratio distorters can enhance both random genetic drift and genetic influx from outside the population. However, these two enhancement effects have been studied independently. Here, we study the equilibrium frequencies of alleles (neutral and selected) in a mainland-island scenario where both genetic drift and genetic influx are enhanced due to infection by a cytoplasmic feminizing element. Interestingly, our model reveals that at neutral loci, the two effects almost exactly cancel each other out, such that infection has only a very minor effect on the equilibrium frequency distributions of alleles. At selected loci, in contrast, the two effects are unbalanced and infection has conspicuous effects. Despite the cryptic effects of infection at neutral loci, we demonstrate that temporally spaced data can be used to evaluate the effect of infection on genetic drift and that on gene flow separately.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Geography
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / genetics*
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Parasites / physiology
  • Population Dynamics
  • Sex Ratio*