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Genetics. 2006 Jan;172(1):457-65. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Genetic variation and selection response in model breeding populations of Brassica rapa following a diversity bottleneck.

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  • 1Department of Horticulture, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Domestication and breeding share a common feature of population bottlenecks followed by significant genetic gain. To date, no crop models for investigating the evolution of genetic variance, selection response, and population diversity following bottlenecks have been developed. We developed a model artificial selection system in the laboratory using rapid-cycling Brassica rapa. Responses to 10 cycles of recurrent selection for cotyledon size were compared across a broad population founded with 200 individuals, three bottleneck populations initiated with two individuals each, and unselected controls. Additive genetic variance and heritability were significantly larger in the bottleneck populations prior to selection and this corresponded to a heightened response of bottleneck populations during the first three cycles. However, the overall response was ultimately greater and more sustained in the broad population. AFLP marker analyses revealed the pattern and extent of population subdivision were unaffected by a bottleneck even though the diversity retained in a selection population was significantly limited. Rapid gain in genetically more uniform bottlenecked populations, particularly in the short term, may offer an explanation for why domesticators and breeders have realized significant selection progress over relatively short time periods.

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