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Genetics. 1985 Nov; 111(3): 675–689.
PMCID: PMC1202664

Population Bottlenecks and Nonequilibrium Models in Population Genetics. II. Number of Alleles in a Small Population That Was Formed by a Recent Bottleneck


A model is presented in which a large population in mutation/drift equilibrium undergoes a severe restriction in size and subsequently remains at the small size. The rate of loss of genetic variability has been studied. Allelic loss occurs more rapidly than loss of genic heterozygosity. Rare alleles are lost especially rapidly. The result is a transient deficiency in the total number of alleles observed in samples taken from the reduced population when compared with the number expected in a sample from a steady-state population having the same observed heterozygosity. Alternatively, the population can be considered to posses excess gene diversity if the number of alleles is used as the statistical estimator of mutation rate. The deficit in allele number arises principally from a lack of those alleles that are expected to appear only once or twice in the sample. The magnitude of the allelic deficiency is less, however, than the excess that an earlier study predicted to follow a rapid population expansion. This suggests that populations that have undergone a single bottleneck event, followed by rapid population growth, should have an apparent excess number of alleles, given the observed level of genic heterozygosity and provided that the bottleneck has not occurred very recently. Conversely, such populations will be deficient for observed heterozygosity if allele number is used as the sufficient statistic for the estimation of 4Nev . Populations that have undergone very recent restrictions in size should show the opposite tendencies.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
  • Burrows PM, Cockerham CC. Distributions of time to fixation of neutral genes. Theor Popul Biol. 1974 Apr;5(2):192–207. [PubMed]
  • Neel JV, Rothman ED. Indirect estimates of mutation rates in tribal Amerindians. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1978 Nov;75(11):5585–5588. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
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