Genetic drift

Genetics as it applies to evolution, molecular biology, and medical aspects.

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Genetic drift

Post by SheffJoe » Tue May 22, 2012 7:01 pm

I keep seeing lots of different information on genetic drift. I understand it to be the random fluctuations in allele frequencies due to random sampling. But how are all these terms connected: genetic drift, bottleneck, small population, neutral variation?

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Re: Genetic drift

Post by plasmodesmata11 » Wed May 23, 2012 3:40 am

I got this from the genetic drift wikipedia page, but i kinda like it, especially the last bit:

The process of genetic drift can be illustrated using 20 marbles in a jar to represent 20 organisms in a population.[4] Consider this jar of marbles as the starting population. Half of the marbles in the jar are red and half blue, and both colors correspond to two different alleles of one gene in the population. In each new generation the organisms reproduce at random. To represent this reproduction, randomly select a marble from the original jar and deposit a new marble with the same color as its "parent" into a new jar. (The selected marble remains in the original jar.) Repeat this process until there are 20 new marbles in the second jar. The second jar then contains a second generation of "offspring", consisting of 20 marbles of various colors. Unless the second jar contains exactly 10 red and 10 blue marbles, a random shift occurred in the allele frequencies.
Repeat this process a number of times, randomly reproducing each generation of marbles to form the next. The numbers of red and blue marbles picked each generation fluctuates: sometimes more red, sometimes more blue. This fluctuation is genetic drift – a change in the population's allele frequency resulting from a random variation in the distribution of alleles from one generation to the next.
It is even possible that in any one generation no marbles of a particular color are chosen, meaning they have no offspring. In this example, if no red marbles are selected the jar representing the new generation contains only blue offspring. If this happens, the red allele has been lost permanently in the population, while the remaining blue allele has become fixed: all future generations are entirely blue. In small populations, fixation can occur in just a few generations.

But to address the rest of the terms, it's how population size and composition can affect genetic drift. If there is a small population, whether they were separated, or it's a founders effect thing OR a bottleneck event occurred, that population is subject to more wholesome changes because there are only a few members; the effect isn't diluted. I hope this explanation helps; if you still have questions, shoot away, because this was rather general.

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Post by canalon » Wed Jun 06, 2012 3:10 am

To see that in action, you can also play with this applet: ... drift.html

Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without
any proof. (Ashley Montague)

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