Fixation probabilities depend on life history: Fecundity, generation time and survival in a burst-death model

L.m. Wahl, Helen Alexander

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The burst‐death model has been developed to describe the life history of organisms with variable generation times and a burst of a fixed number of offspring. The model also includes an optional constant clearance rate, such as washout from a chemostat, and the possibility of sustained periods of population growth followed by severe bottlenecks, as in serial passaging. In this model, a beneficial mutation can either increase the burst rate or the burst size, or reduce the clearance rate, thus increasing survival. In this article we examine the effects of these three possible mechanisms on both the Malthusian fitness and the fixation probability of the lineage. We find that equivalent relative increases in the burst rate or burst size confer equivalent increases in the Malthusian fitness of a lineage, whereas increasing survival typically has a more moderate effect on Malthusian fitness. In contrast, for beneficial mutations that confer the same increase in fitness, mutations that increase survival are the most likely to fix, followed by mutations that increase the burst rate. Mutations that increase the burst size are the least likely to fix. These results imply that mutant lineages with the highest Malthusian fitness are not, in many cases, the most likely to escape extinction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1600-1609
JournalEvolution: International Journal of Organic Evolution
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2008

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Experimental evolution
  • extinction probability
  • fixation probability
  • mathematical model
  • population genetics
  • serial passaging


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