Genetical Research

Effects of population structures and selection strategies on the purging of inbreeding depression due to deleterious mutations

a1 Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK


Stochastic simulations were run to compare the effects of nine breeding schemes, using full-sib mating, on the rate of purging of inbreeding depression due to mutations with equal deleterious effect on viability at unlinked loci in an outbred population. A number of full-sib mating lines were initiated from a large outbred population and maintained for 20 generations (if not extinct). Selection against deleterious mutations was allowed to occur within lines only, between lines or equal within and between lines, and surviving lines were either not crossed or crossed following every one or three generations of full-sib mating. The effectiveness of purging was indicated by the decreased number of lethal equivalents and the increased fitness of the purged population formed from crossing surviving lines after 20 generations under a given breeding scheme. The results show that the effectiveness of purging, the survival of the inbred lines and the inbreeding level attained are generally highest with between-line selection and lowest with within-line selection. Compared with no crossing, line crossing could lower the risk of extinction and the inbreeding coefficient of the purged population substantially with little loss of the effectiveness of purging. Compromising between the effectiveness of purging, and the risk of extinction and inbreeding coefficient, the breeding scheme with equal within- and between-line selection and crossing alternatively with full-sib mating is generally the most desirable scheme for purging deleterious mutations. Unless most deleterious mutations have relatively large effects on fitness in species with reproductive ability high enough to cope with the depressed fitness and thus increased risk of extinction with inbreeding, it is not justified to apply a breeding programme aimed at purging inbreeding depression by inbreeding and selection to a population of conservation concern.

(Received August 4 1999)
(Revised October 12 1999)

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p1 Present address: Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London NW1 4RY, UK.