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Genetics. Dec 2002; 162(4): 1897–1909.
PMCID: PMC1462371

Comparing relative rates of pollen and seed gene flow in the island model using nuclear and organelle measures of population structure.


We describe a method for comparing nuclear and organelle population differentiation (F(ST)) in seed plants to test the hypothesis that pollen and seed gene flow rates are equal. Wright's infinite island model is used, with arbitrary levels of self-fertilization and biparental organelle inheritance. The comparison can also be applied to gene flow in animals. Since effective population sizes are smaller for organelle genomes than for nuclear genomes and organelles are often uniparentally inherited, organelle F(ST) is expected to be higher at equilibrium than nuclear F(ST) even if pollen and seed gene flow rates are equal. To reject the null hypothesis of equal seed and pollen gene flow rates, nuclear and organelle F(ST)'s must differ significantly from their expected values under this hypothesis. Finite island model simulations indicate that infinite island model expectations are not greatly biased by finite numbers of populations (>/=100 subpopulations). The power to distinguish dissimilar rates of pollen and seed gene flow depends on confidence intervals for fixation index estimates, which shrink as more subpopulations and loci are sampled. Using data from the tropical tree Corythophora alta, we rejected the null hypothesis that seed and pollen gene flow rates are equal but cannot reject the alternative hypothesis that pollen gene flow is 200 times greater than seed gene flow.

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Selected References

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