The effect of a population bottleneck on the evolution of genetic variance/covariance structure

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It is well known that standard population genetic theory predicts decreased additive genetic variance (Va) following a population bottleneck and that theoretical models including interallelic and intergenic interactions indicate such loss may be avoided. However, few empirical data from multicellular model systems are available, especially regarding variance/covariance (V/CV) relationships. Here, we compare the V/CV structure of seventeen traits related to body size and composition between control (60 mating pairs/generation) and bottlenecked (2 mating pairs/generation; average F = 0.39) strains of mice. Although results for individual traits vary considerably, multivariate analysis indicates that Va in the bottlenecked populations is greater than expected. Traits with patterns and amounts of epistasis predictive of enhanced Va also show the largest deviations from additive expectations. Finally, the correlation structure of weekly weights is not significantly different between control and experimental lines but correlations between necropsy traits do differ, especially those involving the heart, kidney and tail length.

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