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Inbreeding depression and genetic load at partially linked loci in a metapopulation.
Inbreeding depression has important implications for a wide range of biological phenomena, such as inbreeding avoidance, the evolution and maintenance of sexual systems and extinction rates of small populations. Previous investigations have asked how inbreeding depression evolves in single and subdivided populations through the fixation of deleterious mutations as a result of drift, as well as through the expression of deleterious mutations segregating in a population. These studies have focused on the effects of mutation and selection at single loci, or at unlinked loci. Here, we used simulations to investigate the evolution of genetic load and inbreeding depression due to multiple partially linked loci in metapopulations. Our results indicate that the effect of linkage depends largely on the kinds of deleterious alleles involved. For weakly deleterious and partially recessive mutations, the speed of mutation accumulation at segregating loci in a random-mating subdivided population of a given structure tends to be retarded by increased recombination between adjacent loci - although the highest numbers of fixation of slightly recessive mutant alleles were for low but finite recombination rates. Although linkage had a relatively minor effect on the evolution of metapopulations unless very low values of recombination were assumed, close linkage between adjacent loci tended to enhance population structure and population turnover. Finally, within-deme inbreeding depression, between-deme inbreeding depression and heterosis generally increased with decreased recombination rates. Moreover, increased selfing reduced the effective amount of recombination, and hence the effects of tight linkage on metapopulation genetic structure were decreased with increasing selfing. In contrast, linkage had little effect on the fate of lethal and highly recessive alleles. We compare our simulation results with predictions made by models that ignore the complexities of recombination.
Animals, Computer Simulation, Genetic Load, Genetic Loci, Genetics, Population, Inbreeding, Selection, Genetic
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