Estimates of genetic load in small populations suggest extensive purging of deleterious alleles

Tom Van Der Valk, Marc de Manuel, Katerina Guschanski, Tomas Marques-Bonet

Research output: Working paper

Abstract

It is commonly thought that declining populations will experience negative genetic consequences as a result of increased inbreeding. Here we estimated the average deleteriousness of derived alleles in a range of mammals and found that species with historically small population size and low genetic diversity often have lower genetic load than species with large population sizes. This is likely the result of genetic purging – the more efficient removal of partially deleterious recessive alleles from inbred populations. Our findings suggest that genetic purging occurs over long evolutionary time frames, and therefore rapid population declines are likely to dis-proportionally increase mutational load in species with high diversity, as they carry many deleterious alleles that can reach fixation before genetic purging can remove them.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherbioRxiv, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2021

Keywords

  • genetic load
  • mutation load
  • endangered species
  • inbreeding
  • inbreeding depression
  • conservation
  • genetic rescue

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