The effect of linkage on establishment and survival of locally beneficial mutations
Simon Aeschbacher, Reinhard Buerger
(Submitted on 25 Nov 2013)
When organisms adapt to spatially heterogeneous environments, selection may drive divergence at multiple genes. If populations under divergent selection also exchange migrants, we expect genetic differentiation to be high at selected loci, relative to the baseline caused by migration and genetic drift. Indeed, empirical studies have found peaks of putatively adaptive differentiation. These are highly variable in length, some of them extending over several hundreds of thousands of base pairs. How can such `islands of differentiation’ be explained? Physical linkage produces elevated levels of differentiation at loci close to genes under selection. However, whether this is enough to account for the observed patterns of divergence is not well understood. Here, we investigate the fate of a locally beneficial mutation that arises in linkage to an existing migration-selection polymorphism and derive two important quantities: the probability that the mutation becomes established, and the expected time to its extinction. We find that intermediate levels of recombinations are sometimes favourable, and that physical linkage can lead to strongly elevated invasion probabilities and extinction times. We provide a rule of thumb for when this is the case. Moreover, we quantify the long-term effect of polygenic local adaptation on linked neutral variation.