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Genetics. 2003 Jun;164(2):767-79.

Fixation probability and time in subdivided populations.

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Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


New alleles arising in a population by mutation ultimately are either fixed or lost. Either is possible, for both beneficial and deleterious alleles, because of stochastic changes in allele frequency due to genetic drift. Spatially structured populations differ from unstructured populations in the probability of fixation and the time that this fixation takes. Previous results have generally made many assumptions: that all demes contribute to the next generation in exact proportion to their current sizes, that new mutations are beneficial, and that new alleles have additive effects. In this article these assumptions are relaxed, allowing for an arbitrary distribution among demes of reproductive success, both beneficial and deleterious effects, and arbitrary dominance. The effects of population structure can be expressed with two summary statistics: the effective population size and a variant of Wright's F(ST). In general, the probability of fixation is strongly affected by population structure, as is the expected time to fixation or loss. Population structure changes the effective size of the species, often strongly downward; smaller effective size increases the probability of fixing deleterious alleles and decreases the probability of fixing beneficial alleles. On the other hand, population structure causes an increase in the homozygosity of alleles, which increases the probability of fixing beneficial alleles but somewhat decreases the probability of fixing deleterious alleles. The probability of fixing new beneficial alleles can be simply described by 2hs(1 - F(ST))N(e)/N(tot), where hs is the change in fitness of heterozygotes relative to the ancestral homozygote, F(ST) is a weighted version of Wright's measure of population subdivision, and N(e) and N(tot) are the effective and census sizes, respectively. These results are verified by simulation for a broad range of population structures, including the island model, the stepping-stone model, and a model with extinction and recolonization.

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