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Science. 2002 Jun 28;296(5577):2398-401.

A low genomic number of recessive lethals in natural populations of bluefin killifish and zebrafish.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Despite the importance of selection against deleterious mutations in natural populations, reliable estimates of the genomic numbers of mutant alleles in wild populations are scarce. We found that, in wild-caught bluefin killifish Lucania goodei (Fundulidae) and wild-caught zebrafish Danio rerio (Cyprinidae), the average numbers of recessive lethal alleles per individual are 1.9 (95% confidence limits 1.3 to 2.6) and 1.4 (95% confidence limits 1.0 to 2.0), respectively. These results, together with data on several Drosophila species and on Xenopus laevis, show that phylogenetically distant animals with different genome sizes and numbers of genes carry similar numbers of lethal mutations.

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