Revisiting the notion of deleterious sweeps

Parul Johri, Brian Charlesworth, Emma K. Howell, Michael Lynch, Jeffrey D. Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


It has previously been shown that, conditional on its fixation, the time to fixation of a semi-dominant deleterious autosomal mutation in a randomly mating population is the same as that of an advantageous mutation. This result implies that deleterious mutations could generate selective sweep-like effects. Although their fixation probabilities greatly differ, the much larger input of deleterious relative to beneficial mutations suggests that this phenomenon could be important. We here examine how the fixation of mildly deleterious mutations affects levels and patterns of polymorphism at linked sites - both in the presence and absence of interference amongst deleterious mutations - and how this class of sites may contribute to divergence between-populations and species. We find that, while deleterious fixations are unlikely to represent a significant proportion of outliers in polymorphism-based genomic scans within populations, minor shifts in the frequencies of deleterious mutations can influence the proportions of private variants and the value of FST after a recent population split. As sites subject to deleterious mutations are necessarily found in functional genomic regions, interpretations in terms of recurrent positive selection may require reconsideration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberiyab094
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • deleterious mutations
  • genetic hitchhiking
  • population genetics
  • selective sweeps

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


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