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The Age of a Neutral Mutant Persisting in a Finite Population

The Genetics Society of America
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Formulae for the mean and the mean square age of a neutral allele which is segregating with frequency x in a population of effective size Ne have been obtained using the diffusion equation method, for the case of 4Nev<1 where v is the mutation rate. It has been shown that the average ages of neutral alleles, even if their frequencies are relatively low, are quite old. For example, a neutral mutant whose current frequency is 10% has the expected age roughly equal to the effective population size Ne and the standard deviation 1.4Ne (in generations), assuming that this mutant has increased by random drift from a very low frequency. Also, formulae for the mean "first arrival time" of a neutral mutant to a certain frequency x have been presented. In addition, a new, approximate method has been developed which enables us to obtain the condition under which frequencies of "rare" polymorphic alleles among local populations are expected to be uniform if the alleles are selectively neutral.—It was concluded that exchange of only a few individuals on the average between adjacent colonies per generation is enough to bring about such a uniformity of frequencies.

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