Dominance of Deleterious Alleles Controls the Response to a Population Bottleneck

Daniel J. Balick, Ron Do, Christopher A. Cassa, David Reich, Shamil R. Sunyaev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Population bottlenecks followed by re-expansions have been common throughout history of many populations. The response of alleles under selection to such demographic perturbations has been a subject of great interest in population genetics. On the basis of theoretical analysis and computer simulations, we suggest that this response qualitatively depends on dominance. The number of dominant or additive deleterious alleles per haploid genome is expected to be slightly increased following the bottleneck and re-expansion. In contrast, the number of completely or partially recessive alleles should be sharply reduced. Changes of population size expose differences between recessive and additive selection, potentially providing insight into the prevalence of dominance in natural populations. Specifically, we use a simple statistic, (Formula presented.) , where xi represents the derived allele frequency, to compare the number of mutations in different populations, and detail its functional dependence on the strength of selection and the intensity of the population bottleneck. We also provide empirical evidence showing that gene sets associated with autosomal recessive disease in humans may have a BR indicative of recessive selection. Together, these theoretical predictions and empirical observations show that complex demographic history may facilitate rather than impede inference of parameters of natural selection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1005436
JournalPLoS Genetics
Issue number8
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Dominance of Deleterious Alleles Controls the Response to a Population Bottleneck'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this