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Genetic load, inbreeding depression and heterosis in an age-structured metapopulation.
Journal of Evolutionary Biology
In a metapopulation, the process of recurrent local extinction and recolonization gives rise to an age structure among demes. Recently established demes will tend to differ from older demes in terms of the levels of genetic diversity found within them and the way this diversity is distributed among demes in the same and different ages. The effects of population turnover on average levels of genetic diversity among demes in a metapopulation have been the focus of much attention, both for neutral and nonneutral loci, but much less is known about the distribution of nonneutral genetic diversity among demes of different ages. In this paper, we used computer simulations to study the distribution of genetic load, inbreeding depression and heterosis in an age-structured metapopulation. We found that, for mildly deleterious mutations, within-deme inbreeding depression increased, whereas heterosis and genetic load decreased with deme age following severe colonization bottlenecks. In contrast, recessive lethal alleles tended to be purged during colonization, with older populations showing higher genetic load and higher within-deme inbreeding depression. Heterosis caused by recessive lethal alleles and resulting from gene flow among different demes tended to be greatest for young demes, because the mutations responsible tended to be purged in the first few generations after colonization, but its effects increased again as populations grow older as a result of immigration. Our results point to a need for estimates of genetic diversity, genetic load, within-deme inbreeding depression and heterosis in demes of different age classes separately.
Age Factors, Computer Simulation, Genetic Load, Genetics, Population, Hybrid Vigor/genetics, Inbreeding, Models, Genetic
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