Deleterious variation shapes the genomic landscape of introgression

Bernard Y. Kim, Christian D. Huber, Kirk E. Lohmueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


While it is appreciated that population size changes can impact patterns of deleterious variation in natural populations, less attention has been paid to how gene flow affects and is affected by the dynamics of deleterious variation. Here we use population genetic simulations to examine how gene flow impacts deleterious variation under a variety of demographic scenarios, mating systems, dominance coefficients, and recombination rates. Our results show that admixture between populations can temporarily reduce the genetic load of smaller populations and cause increases in the frequency of introgressed ancestry, especially if deleterious mutations are recessive. Additionally, when fitness effects of new mutations are recessive, between-population differences in the sites at which deleterious variants exist creates heterosis in hybrid individuals. Together, these factors lead to an increase in introgressed ancestry, particularly when recombination rates are low. Under certain scenarios, introgressed ancestry can increase from an initial frequency of 5% to 30–75% and fix at many loci, even in the absence of beneficial mutations. Further, deleterious variation and admixture can generate correlations between the frequency of introgressed ancestry and recombination rate or exon density, even in the absence of other types of selection. The direction of these correlations is determined by the specific demography and whether mutations are additive or recessive. Therefore, it is essential that null models of admixture include both demography and deleterious variation before invoking other mechanisms to explain unusual patterns of genetic variation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1007741
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research


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