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Inbreeding depression and low between-population heterosis in recently diverged experimental populations of a selfing species

Abstract : In fragmented populations, genetic drift and selection reduce genetic diversity, which in turn results in a loss of fitness or in a loss of evolvability. Genetic rescue, that is, controlled input of diversity from distant populations, may restore evolutionary potential, whereas outbreeding depression might counteract the positive effect of this strategy. We carried out self-pollination and crosses within and between populations in an experimental subdivided population of a selfing species, Triticum aestivum L., to estimate the magnitude of these two phenomena. Surprisingly, for a self-fertilizing species, we found significant inbreeding depression within each population for four of the six traits studied, indicating that mildly deleterious mutations were still segregating in these populations. The progeny of within- and betweenpopulation crosses was very similar, indicating low betweenpopulation heterosis and little outbreeding depression. We conclude that relatively large population effective sizes prevented fixation of a high genetic load and that local adaptation was limited in these recently diverged populations. The kinship coefficient estimated between the parents using 20 neutral markers was a poor predictor of the progeny phenotypic values, indicating that there was a weak link between neutral diversity and genes controlling fitnessrelated traits. These results show that when assessing the viability of natural populations and the need for genetic rescue, the use of neutral markers should be complemented with information about the presence of local adaptation in the subdivided population.
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Yves Rousselle, Mathieu Thomas, Nathalie Galic, Isabelle Bonnin, Isabelle Goldringer. Inbreeding depression and low between-population heterosis in recently diverged experimental populations of a selfing species. Heredity, Nature Publishing Group, 2011, 106 (2), pp.289-299. ⟨10.1038/hdy.2010.72⟩. ⟨hal-02646306⟩

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