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J Evol Biol. 2004 Nov;17(6):1400-1; discussion 1402-4.

Synergistic epistasis and alternative hypotheses.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Inbreeding generally results in deleterious shifts in mean fitness. If the fitness response to increasing inbreeding coefficient is non-linear, this suggests a contribution of epistasis to inbreeding depression. In a cross-breeding experiment, Salathe & Ebert (2003. J. Evol. Biol. 16: 976-985) tested and found the presence of this non-linearity in Daphnia magna. They argue that epistatic interactions cause this non-linearity. We argue here that their experimental protocol does not allow disentangling the effect of synergistic epistasis from two alternative hypotheses, namely hybrid vigour and statistical non-independence of data.

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