Oct 22, 2018

Muller's Ratchet in Asexual Populations Doomed to Extinction

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Logan ChipkinRicardo B. R. Azevedo


Asexual populations are expected to accumulate deleterious mutations through a process known as Muller's Ratchet. Lynch, Gabriel, and colleagues have proposed that the Ratchet eventually results in a vicious cycle of mutation accumulation and population decline that drives populations to extinction. They called this phenomenon mutational meltdown. Here, we analyze the meltdown using a multitype branching process model where, in the presence of mutation, populations are doomed to extinction. We find that extinction occurs more quickly in small populations, experiencing a high deleterious mutation rate, and mutations with more severe deleterious effects. The effects of mutational parameters on extinction time in doomed populations differ from those on the severity of Muller's Ratchet in populations of constant size. We also find that mutational meltdown, although it does occur in our model, does not determine extinction time. Rather, extinction time is determined by the expected impact of deleterious mutations on fitness.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Deleterious Mutation
Branching (Qualifier Value)
Mutation Abnormality
Population Group

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