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Mol Biol Evol. 2014 Feb;31(2):474-83. doi: 10.1093/molbev/mst221. Epub 2013 Nov 9.

A guide for the design of evolve and resequencing studies.

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Institut für Populationsgenetik, Vetmeduni Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Standing genetic variation provides a rich reservoir of potentially useful mutations facilitating the adaptation to novel environments. Experimental evolution studies have demonstrated that rapid and strong phenotypic responses to selection can also be obtained in the laboratory. When combined with the next-generation sequencing technology, these experiments promise to identify the individual loci contributing to adaption. Nevertheless, until now, very little is known about the design of such evolve & resequencing (E&R) studies. Here, we use forward simulations of entire genomes to evaluate different experimental designs that aim to maximize the power to detect selected variants. We show that low linkage disequilibrium in the starting population, population size, duration of the experiment, and the number of replicates are the key factors in determining the power and accuracy of E&R studies. Furthermore, replication of E&R is more important for detecting the targets of selection than increasing the population size. Using an optimized design, beneficial loci with a selective advantage as low as s = 0.005 can be identified at the nucleotide level. Even when a large number of loci are selected simultaneously, up to 56% can be reliably detected without incurring large numbers of false positives. Our computer simulations suggest that, with an adequate experimental design, E&R studies are a powerful tool to identify adaptive mutations from standing genetic variation and thereby provide an excellent means to analyze the trajectories of selected alleles in evolving populations.


adaptation; bioinformatics; evolve & resequencing; experimental evolution; next-generation sequencing

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