Analysis of inbreeding depression in the first litter size of mice in a long-term selection experiment with respect to the age of the inbreeding

D. Hinrichs, T.H.E. Meuwissen, J. Odegard, M. Holt, O. Vangen, John Woolliams

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An understanding of inbreeding and inbreeding depression are important in evolutionary biology, conservation genetics, and animal breeding. A new method was developed to detect departures from the classical model of inbreeding; in particular, it investigated differences between the effects of inbreeding in recent generations from that in the more distant past. The method was applied in a long-term selection experiment on first-litter size in mice. The total pedigree included 74 630 animals with similar to 30 000 phenotypic records. The experiment comprised several different lines. The highest inbreeding coefficients (F) within a line ranged from 0.22 to 0.64, and the average effective population size (N-e) was 58.1. The analysis divided F into two parts, corresponding to the inbreeding occurring in recent generations ('new') and that which preceded it ('old'). The analysis was repeated for different definitions of 'old' and 'new', depending on length of the 'new' period. In 15 of these tests, 'new' inbreeding was estimated to cause greater depression than 'old'. The estimated depression ranged from - 11.53 to - 0.79 for the 'new' inbreeding and from - 5.22 to 15.51 for 'old'. The difference was significant, the 'new' period included at least 25 generations of inbreeding. Since there were only small differences in N-e between lines, and near constant N-e within lines, the effect of 'new' and 'old' cannot be attributed to the effects of 'fast' versus 'slow' inbreeding. It was concluded that this departure from the classical model, which predicts no distinction between this 'old and 'new' inbreeding, must implicate natural selection and purging in influencing the magnitude of depression.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)81-88
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • inbreeding depression
  • 'old' inbreeding
  • 'new' inbreeding
  • Inbreeding
  • purging
  • Natural selection

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