Gene pool

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noun, plural: gene pools

(population genetics)

The total number of genes of every individual in an interbreeding population.


A large gene pool indicates high genetic diversity, increased chances of biological fitness, and survival. A small gene pool indicates low genetic diversity, reduced chances of acquiring biological fitness, and increased possibility of extinction.

Gene pool increases when mutation occurs and survives. Gene pool decreases when the population size is significantly reduced (e.g. famine, genetic disease, etc.). Some of the consequences when gene pool is small are low fertility, and increased probability of acquiring genetic diseases and deformities.

Gene pool gives an idea of the number of genes, the variety of genes and the type of genes existing in a population. It can be used to help determinegene frequencies or the ratio between different types of genes in a population.

Word origin: gene: from G genea, generation, race + pool: Middle English, from Old English pōl.
Related phrases: long-term gene pool.

See also: gene frequency, genetic diversity, genetic isolation.