The Effects of Deleterious Mutations on Evolution at Linked Sites

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature reviewpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The process of evolution at a given site in the genome can be influenced by the action of selection at other sites, especially when these are closely linked to it. Such selection reduces the effective population size experienced by the site in question (the Hill-Robertson effect), reducing the level of variability and the efficacy of selection. In particular, deleterious variants are continually being produced by mutation and then eliminated by selection at sites throughout the genome. The resulting reduction in variability at linked neutral or nearly neutral sites can be predicted from the theory of background selection, which assumes that deleterious mutations have such large effects that their behavior in the population is effectively deterministic. More weakly selected mutations can accumulate by Muller's ratchet after a shutdown of recombination, as in an evolving Y chromosome. Many functionally significant sites are probably so weakly selected that Hill-Robertson interference undermines the effective strength of selection upon them, when recombination is rare or absent. This leads to large departures from deterministic equilibrium and smaller effects on linked neutral sites than under background selection or Muller's ratchet. Evidence is discussed that is consistent with the action of these processes in shaping genome-wide patterns of variation and evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-22
Number of pages18
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • mutations
  • genetic drift
  • natural selection
  • background selection
  • Hill-Robertson interference


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