Genetic architecture and lifetime dynamics of inbreeding depression in a wild

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Inbreeding depression is ubiquitous, but we still know little about its genetic architecture and precise effects in wild populations. Here, we combine long-term life-history data with 417K imputed SNP genotypes for 5,952 wild Soay sheep to explore inbreeding depression on a key fitness component, annual survival. Inbreeding manifests in long runs of homozygosity (ROH), which make up nearly half of the genome in the most inbred individuals. The ROH landscape varies widely across the genome, with islands where up to 87% and deserts where only 4% of individuals have ROH. The fitness consequences of inbreeding are severe; a 10% increase in individual inbreeding FROH is associated with a 60% reduction in the odds of survival in lambs, though inbreeding depression decreases with age. Finally, a genome-wide association scan on ROH shows that many loci with small effects and five loci with larger effects contribute to inbreeding depression in survival.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2972
Number of pages10
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2021


  • evolutionary biology
  • evolutionary genetics
  • inbreeding


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