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Genetics. 2004 Jun;167(2):1001-15.

Joint effects of self-fertilization and population structure on mutation load, inbreeding depression and heterosis.

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  • 1Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution, Universit√© Montpellier II, 34095 Montpellier, France.


Both the spatial distribution of organisms and their mode of reproduction have important effects on the change in allele frequencies within populations. In this article, we study the combined effect of population structure and the rate of partial selfing of organisms on the efficiency of selection against recurrent deleterious mutations. Assuming an island model of population structure and weak selection, we express the mutation load, the within- and between-deme inbreeding depression, and heterosis as functions of the frequency of deleterious mutants in the metapopulation; we then use a diffusion model to calculate an expression for the equilibrium probability distribution of this frequency of deleterious mutants. This allows us to derive approximations for the average mutant frequency, mutation load, inbreeding depression, and heterosis, the simplest ones being Equations 35-39 in the text. We find that population structure can help to purge recessive deleterious mutations and reduce the load for some parameter values (in particular when the dominance coefficient of these mutations is <0.2-0.3), but that this effect is reversed when the selfing rate is above a given value. Conversely, within-deme inbreeding depression always decreases, while heterosis always increases, with the degree of population subdivision, for all selfing rates.

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