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Genetics. 2008 Jan;178(1):467-75. doi: 10.1534/genetics.107.081166.

The fixation of locally beneficial alleles in a metapopulation.

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Laboratory of Ecological Systems, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Extinction, recolonization, and local adaptation are common in natural spatially structured populations. Understanding their effect upon genetic variation is important for systems such as genetically modified organism management or avoidance of drug resistance. Theoretical studies on the effect of extinction and recolonization upon genetic variance started appearing in the 1970s, but the role of local adaptation still has no good theoretical basis. Here we develop a model of a haploid species in a metapopulation in which a locally adapted beneficial allele is introduced. We study the effect of different spatial patterns of local adaptation, and different metapopulation dynamics, upon the fixation probability of the beneficial allele. Controlling for the average selection pressure, we find that a small area of positive selection can significantly increase the global probability of fixation. However, local adaptation becomes less important as extinction rate increases. Deme extinction and recolonization have a spatial smoothing effect that effectively reduces spatial variation in fitness.

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