Population admixture, biological invasions and the balance between local adaptation and inbreeding depression

K.J.F. Verhoeven, M. Macel, L.M. Wolfe, A. Biere

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203 Citations (Scopus)


When previously isolated populations meet and mix, the resulting admixed population can benefit from several genetic advantages, including increased genetic variation, the creation of novel genotypes and the masking of deleterious mutations. These admixture benefits are thought to play an important role in biological invasions. In contrast, populations in their native range often remain differentiated and frequently suffer from inbreeding depression owing to isolation. While the advantages of admixture are evident for introduced populations that experienced recent bottlenecks or that face novel selection pressures, it is less obvious why native range populations do not similarly benefit from admixture. Here we argue that a temporary loss of local adaptation in recent invaders fundamentally alters the fitness consequences of admixture. In native populations, selection against dilution of the locally adapted gene pool inhibits unconstrained admixture and reinforces population isolation, with some level of inbreeding depression as an expected consequence. We show that admixture is selected against despite significant inbreeding depression because the benefits of local adaptation are greater than the cost of inbreeding. In contrast, introduced populations that have not yet established a pattern of local adaptation can freely reap the benefits of admixture. There can be strong selection for admixture because it instantly lifts the inbreeding depression that had built up in isolated parental populations. Recent work in Silene suggests that reduced inbreeding depression associated with post-introduction admixture may contribute to enhanced fitness of invasive populations. We hypothesize that in locally adapted populations, the benefits of local adaptation are balanced against an inbreeding cost that could develop in part owing to the isolating effect of local adaptation itself. The inbreeding cost can be revealed in admixing populations during recent invasions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-8
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society. B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1702
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • silene-latifolia caryophyllaceae
  • genetic differentiation
  • intraspecific hybridization
  • multiple introductions
  • reproductive isolation
  • divergent selection
  • adaptive evolution
  • quantitative trait
  • plant
  • success


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