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Heredity (Edinb). 2006 Jun;96(6):445-53.

Gene flow's effect on the genetic architecture of a local adaptation and its consequences for QTL analyses.

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1Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z4, Canada.


This paper uses computer simulations to determine how gene flow between populations affects (1) the genetic architecture of a local adaptation and (2) properties of alleles segregating in quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping populations. Results suggest that the average magnitude of an allele that causes a phenotypic difference between populations declines as the migration rate increases, but with an increase in migration, alleles of larger magnitude cause proportionally more of the phenotypic difference between populations. Gene flow between populations that are used in a QTL study tends to cause the average magnitude and percent variance explained (PVE) of an allele in a mapping population to increase. Thus, although the average magnitude of an allele causing a difference declines with migration the average magnitude or PVE of an allele in a QTL mapping population may increase. The reason is that the probability an allele is sampled for a QTL mapping population is in direct proportion to its frequency and alleles of larger magnitude tend to segregate at relatively higher frequencies than alleles of smaller effect with an increased migration. As the rate of gene flow between populations increases, the proportion of the phenotypic difference explained by alleles that are segregating in a QTL mapping population (and therefore potentially detected) decreases. Lastly, results suggest QTL alleles of large effect (>20% PVE) should be commonly found, provided the divergence time between populations is not too long or optima of populations are not too far apart.

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