Allelic Diversity and Its Implications for the Rate of Adaptation
Armando Caballero, Aurora García-Dorado


Genetic variation is usually estimated empirically from statistics based on population gene frequencies, but alternative statistics based on allelic diversity (number of allelic types) can provide complementary information. There is a lack of knowledge, however, on the evolutionary implications attached to allelic-diversity measures, particularly in structured populations. In this article we simulated multiple scenarios of single and structured populations in which a quantitative trait subject to stabilizing selection is adapted to different fitness optima. By forcing a global change in the optima we evaluated which diversity variables are more strongly correlated with both short- and long-term adaptation to the new optima. We found that quantitative genetic variance components for the trait and gene-frequency-diversity measures are generally more strongly correlated with short-term response to selection, whereas allelic-diversity measures are more correlated with long-term and total response to selection. Thus, allelic-diversity variables are better predictors of long-term adaptation than gene-frequency variables. This observation is also extended to unlinked neutral markers as a result of the information they convey on the demographic population history. Diffusion approximations for the allelic-diversity measures in a finite island model under the infinite-allele neutral mutation model are also provided.

  • Received May 9, 2013.
  • Accepted October 8, 2013.
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