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Severe inbreeding depression is predicted by the “rare allele load” in Mimulus guttatus


Brown, Keely E.; Kelly, John K. (2019), Severe inbreeding depression is predicted by the “rare allele load” in Mimulus guttatus, Dryad, Dataset,


Most flowering plants are hermaphroditic and experience strong pressures to evolve self‐pollination (automatic selection, reproductive assurance). Inbreeding depression (ID) can oppose selection for selfing, but it remains unclear if ID is typically strong enough to maintain outcrossing. To measure the full cost of sustained inbreeding on fitness, and its genomic basis, we planted highly homozygous, fully genome‐sequenced inbred lines of yellow monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) in the field next to outbred plants from crosses between the same lines. The cost of full homozygosity is severe: 65% for survival, 86% for lifetime seed production. Accounting for the unmeasured effect of lethal and sterile mutations, we estimate that the average fitness of fully inbred genotypes is only 3–4% that of outbred competitors. The genome sequence data provides no indication of simple overdominance, but the number of rare alleles carried by a line, especially within rare allele clusters nonrandomly distributed across the genome, is a significant negative predictor of fitness measurements. These findings are consistent with a deleterious allele model for ID. High variance in rare allele load among lines and the genomic distribution of rare alleles both suggest that migration might be an important source of deleterious alleles to local populations.


Field fitness and greenhouse data include either counts of seeds or dry tissue weights. 


National Institutes of Health, Award: R01 GM073990

KU Botany Endowment