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Chapter 23

BIOL 1020 Chapter 23: Chapter 23 The Evolution of Populations

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Biological Sciences
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BIOL 1020
Joy Stacey

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Chapter 23 The Evolution of Populations Lecture Outline Overview: The Smallest Unit of Evolution • One common misconception about evolution is that organisms evolve, in a Darwinian sense, during their lifetimes. • Natural selection does act on individuals. Each individual’s combination of inherited traits affects its survival and its reproductive success relative to other individuals in the population. • However, the evolutionary impact of natural selection is only apparent in the changes in a population of organisms over time. • It is the population, not the individual, that evolves. • Consider the example of bent grass (Agrostis tenuis) growing on the tailings of an abandoned mine. These tailings are rich in toxic heavy metals. • While many bent grass seeds land on the mine tailings each year, the only plants that germinate, grow, and reproduce are those that possess genes enabling them to tolerate metallic soils. • These plants tend to produce metal-tolerant offspring. • Individual plants do not evolve to become more metal-tolerant during their lifetimes. Concept 23.1 Population genetics provides a foundation for studying evolution • Darwin proposed a mechanism for change in species over time. • What was missing from Darwin’s explanation was an understanding of inheritance that could explain how chance variations arise in a population while also accounting for the precise transmission of these variations from parents to offspring. • The widely accepted hypothesis of the time—that the traits of parents are blended in their offspring—would eliminate the differences in individuals over time. • Just a few years after Darwin published On the Origin of Species, Gregor Mendel proposed a model of inheritance that supported Darwin’s theory. • Mendel’s particulate hypothesis of inheritance stated that parents pass on discrete heritable units (genes) that retain their identities in offspring. • Although Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin were contemporaries, Darwin never saw Mendel’s paper, and its implications were not understood by the few scientists who did read it at the time. • Mendel’s contribution to evolutionary theory was not appreciated until half a century later. The modern evolutionary synthesis integrated Darwinian selection and Mendelian inheritance. • When Mendel’s research was rediscovered in the early 20th century, many geneticists believed that his laws of inheritance conflicted with Darwin’s theory of natural selection. • Darwin emphasized quantitative characters, those that vary along a continuum. • These characters are influenced by multiple loci. • Mendel and later geneticists investigated discrete “either-or” traits. • It was not obvious that there was a genetic basis to quantitative characters. • Within a few decades, geneticists determined that quantitative characters are influenced by multiple genetic loci and that the alleles at each locus follow Mendelian laws of inheritance. • These discoveries helped reconcile Darwin’s and Mendel’s ideas and led to the birth of population genetics, the study of how populations change genetically over time. • A comprehensive theory of evolution, the modern synthesis, took form in the early 1940s. • It integrated discoveries and ideas from paleontology, taxonomy, biogeography, and population genetics. • The first architects of the modern synthesis included statistician R. A. Fisher, who demonstrated the rules by which Mendelian characters are inherited, and biologist J. B. S. Haldane, who explored the rules of natural selection. Later contributors included geneticists Theodosius Dobzhansky and Sewall Wright, biogeographer and taxonomist Ernst Mayr, paleontologist George Gaylord Simpson, and botanist G. Ledyard Stebbins. • The modern synthesis emphasizes: • The importance of populations as the units of evolution. • The central role of natural selection as the most important mechanism of adaptive evolution. • The idea of gradualism to explain how large changes can evolve as an accumulation of small changes over long periods of time. • While many evolutionary biologists are now challenging some of the assumptions of the modern synthesis, it has shaped our ideas about how populations evolve. A population’s gene pool is defined by its allele frequencies. • A population is a localized group of individuals that belong to the same species. • One definition of a species is a group of natural populations whose individuals have the potential to interbreed and produce fertile offspring. • Populations of a species may be isolated from each other and rarely exchange genetic material. • Members of a population are far more likely to breed with members of the same population than with members of other populations. • Individuals near the population’s center are, on average, more closely related to one another than to members of other populations. • The total aggregate of genes in a population at any one time is called the population’s gene pool. • It consists of all alleles at all gene loci in all individuals of a population. • If only one allele exists at a particular locus in a population, that allele is said to be fixed in the gene pool, and all individuals will be homozygous for that gene. • If there are two or more alleles for a particular locus, then individuals can be either homozygous or heterozygous for that gene. • Each allele has a frequency in the population’s gene pool. • For example, imagine a population of 500 wildflower plants with two alleles (CR and CW) at a locus that codes for flower pigment. • Suppose that in the imaginary population of 500 plants, 20 (4%) are homozygous for the CW allele (CWCW) and have white flowers. • Of the remaining plants, 320 (64%) are homozygous for the CR allele (CRCR) and have red flowers. • These alleles show incomplete dominance. 160 (32%) of the plants are heterozygous (CRCW) and produce pink flowers. • Because these plants are diploid, the population of 500 plants has 1,000 copies of the gene for flower color. • The dominant allele (CR) accounts for 800 copies (320 × 2 for CRCR + 160 × 1 for CRCW). • The frequency of the CR allele in the gene pool of this population is 800/1,000 = 0.8, or 80%. • The CW allele must have a frequency of 1.0 ? 0.8 = 0.2, or 20%. • When there are two alleles at a locus, the convention is to use p to represent the frequency of one allele and q to represent the frequency of the other. • Thus p, the frequency of the CR allele in this population, is 0.8. • The frequency of the CW allele, represented by q, is 0.2. The Hardy-Weinberg Theorem describes a nonevolving population. • The Hardy-Weinberg theorem describes the gene pool of a nonevolving population. • This theorem states that the frequencies of alleles and genotypes in a population’s gene pool will remain constant over generations unless acted upon by agents other than Mendelian segregation and recombination of alleles. • The shuffling of alleles by meiosis and random fertilization has no effect on the overall gene pool of a population. • In our imaginary wildflower population of 500 plants, 80% (0.8) of the flower color alleles are CR, and 20% (0.2) are CW. • How will meiosis and sexual reproduction affect the frequencies of the two alleles in the next generation? • We assume that fertilization is completely random and all male- female mating combinations are equally likely. • Because each gamete has only one allele for flower color, we expect that a gamete drawn from the gene pool at random has a 0.8 chance of bearing an CR allele and a 0.2 chance of bearing an CW allele. • Suppose that the individuals in a population not only donate gametes to the next generation at random, but also mate at random. In other words, all male-female matings are equally likely. • The allele frequencies in this population will not change from one generation to the next. Its genotype frequencies, which can be predicted from the allele frequencies, will also remain unchanged. • For the flower-color locus, the population’s genetic structure is in a state of Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. • Using the rule of multiplication, we can determine the frequencies of the three possible genotypes in the next generation. • The probability of picking two CR alleles (to obtain a CRCR genotype) is 0.8 × 0.8 = 0.64, or 64%. • The probability of picking two CW alleles (to obtain a CWCW genotype) is 0.2 × 0.2 = 0.04, or 4%. • Heterozygous individuals are either CRCW or CWCR, depending on whether the CR allele arrived via sperm or egg. • The probability of being heterozygous (with a CRCW genotype) is 0.8 × 0.2 = 0.16 for CRCW, 0.2 × 0.8 = 0.16 for CWCR, and 0.16 + 0.16 = 0.32, or 32%, for CRCW + CWCR. • As you can see, the processes of meiosis and random fertilization have maintained the same allele and genotype frequencies that existed in the previous generation. • The Hardy-Weinberg theorem states that the repeated shuffling of a population’s gene pool over generations does not increase the frequency of one allele over another. • Theoretically, the allele frequencies in our flower population should remain at 0.8 for CR and 0.2 for CW forever. • To generalize the example, in a population with two alleles with frequencies of p and q, the combined frequencies must add to 100%. • Therefore p + q = 1. • If p + q = 1, then p = 1 ? q and q = 1 ? p. • In the wildflower example, p is the frequency of red alleles (CR) and q is the frequency of white alleles (CW). • The probability of generating an CRCR offspring is p2 (an application of the rule of multiplication). • In our example, p = 0.8 and p2 = 0.64. • The probability of generating a CWCW offspring is q2. • In our example, q = 0.2 and q2 = 0.04. • The probability of generating a CRCW offspring is 2pq. • In our example, 2 × 0.8 × 0.2 = 0.32. • The genotype frequencies must add up to 1.0: p2 + 2pq + q2 = 1.0 • For the wildflowers, 0.64 + 0.32 + 0.04 = 1.0. • This general formula is the Hardy-Weinberg equation. • Using this formula, we can calculate frequencies of alleles in a gene pool if we know the frequency of genotypes, or the frequency of genotypes if we know the frequencies of alleles. Five conditions must be met for a population to remain in Hardy- Weinberg equilibrium. • The Hardy-Weinberg theorem describes a hypothetic population that is not evolving. However, real populations do evolve, and their allele and genotype frequencies do change over time. • That is because the five conditions for nonevolving populations are rarely met for long in nature. • A population must satisfy five conditions if it is to remain in Hardy- Weinberg equilibrium: 1. Extremely large population size. In small populations, chance fluctuations in the gene pool can cause genotype frequencies to change over time. These random changes are called genetic drift. 2. No gene flow. Gene flow, the transfer of alleles due to the migration of individuals or gametes between populations, can change the proportions of alleles. 3. No mutations. Introduction, loss, or modification of genes will alter the gene pool. 4. Random mating. If individuals pick mates with certain genotypes, or if inbreeding is common, the mixing of gametes will not be random. 5. No natural selection. Differential survival or reproductive success among genotypes will alter their frequencies. • Evolution usually results when any of these five conditions are not met. • Although natural populations are rarely, if ever, in true Hardy- Weinberg equilibrium, the rate of evolutionary change in many populations is so slow that they appear to be close to equilibrium. • In such cases, we can use the Hardy-Weinberg equation to estimate genotype and allele frequencies. • We can use the theorem to estimate the percentage of the human population that carries the allele for the inherited disease phenylketonuria (PKU). • About 1 in 10,000 babies born in the United States is born with PKU, a metabolic condition that results in mental retardation and other problems if left untreated. • The disease is caused by a recessive allele. • Is the U.S. population in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium with respect to the PKU gene? 1. The U.S. population is very large. 2. Populations outside the United States have PKU allele frequencies similar to those seen in the United States, so gene flow will not alter allele frequencies significantly. 3. The mutation rate for the PKU gene is very low. 4. People do not choose their partners based on whether or not they carry the PKU allele, and inbreeding (marriage to close relatives) is rare in the United States. 5. Selection against PKU only acts against the rare heterozygous recessive individuals. • From the epidemiological data, we know that frequency of homozygous recessive individuals (q2 in the Hardy-Weinberg theorem) = 1 in 10,000, or 0.0001. • The frequency of the recessive allele (q) is the square root of 0.0001 = 0.01. • The frequency of the dominant allele (p) is p = 1 ? q, or 1 ? 0.01 = 0.99. • The frequency of carriers (heterozygous individuals) is 2pq = 2 × 0.99 × 0.01 = 0.0198, or about 2%. • Thus, about 2% of the U.S. population carries the PKU allele. Concept 23.2 Mutation and sexual recombination produce the variation that makes evolution possible New genes and new alleles originate only by mutation. • A mutation is a change in the nucleotide sequence of an organism’s DNA. • Most mutations occur in somatic cells and are lost when the individual dies. • Only mutations in cell lines that form gametes can be passed on to offspring, and only a small fraction of these spread through populations and become fixed. • A new mutation that is transmitted in a gamete to an offspring can immediately change the gene pool of a population by introducing a new allele. • A point mutation is a change of a single base in a gene. • Point mutations can have a significant impact on phenotype, as in the case of sickle-cell disease. • However, most point mutations are harmless. • Much of the DNA in eukaryotic genomes does not code for protein products. • However, some noncoding regions of DNA do regulate gene expression. • Changes in these regulatory regions of DNA can have profound effects. • Because the genetic code is redundant, some point mutations in genes that code for proteins may not alter the protein’s amino acid composition. • On rare occasions, a mutant allele may actually make its bearer better suited to the environment, increasing reproductive success. • This is more likely when the environment is changing. • Some mutations alter gene number or sequence. • Chromosomal mutations that delete or rearrange many gene loci at once are almost always harmful. • In rare cases, chromosomal rearrangements may be beneficial. • For example, the translocation of part of one chromosome to a different chromosome could link genes that act together to positive effect. • Gene duplication is an important source of new genetic variation. • Small pieces of DNA can be introduced into the genome through the activity of transposons. • Such duplicated segments can persist over generations and provide new loci that may eventually take on new functions by mutation and subsequent selection. • New genes may also arise when the coding subsections of genes known as exons are shuffled within the genome, within a single locus or between loci. • Such beneficial increases in gene number appear to have played a major role in evolution. • For example, mammalian ancestors carried a single gene for detecting odors that has been duplicated though various mutational mechanisms. • Modern humans have close to 1,000 olfactory receptor genes. • 60% of these genes have been inactivated in humans, due to mutations. • Mice, who rely more on their sense of smell, have lost only 20% of their olfactory receptor genes. • Mutation rates vary from organism to organism. • Mutation rates are low in animals and plants, averaging about 1 mutation in every 100,000 genes per generation. • In microorganisms and viruses with short generation spans, mutation rates are much higher and can rapidly generate genetic variation. Sexual recombination also produces genetic variation. • On a generation-to-generation timescale, sexual recombination is far more important than mutation in producing the genetic differences that make adaptation possible. • Sexual reproduction rearranges alleles into novel combinations every generation. • Bacteria and viruses can also undergo recombination, but they do so less regularly than animals and plants. • Bacterial and viral recombination may cross species barriers. Concept 23.3 Natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow can alter a population’s genetic composition • Although new mutations can modify allele frequencies, the change from generation to generation is very small. • Recombination reshuffles alleles but does not change their frequency. • Three major factors alter allele frequencies to bring about evolutionary change: natural selection, genetic drift, and gene flow. Natural selection is based on differential reproductive success. • Individuals in a population vary in their heritable traits. • Those with variations better suited to the environment tend to produce more offspring than those with variations that are less well suited. • As a result of selection, alleles are passed on to the next generation in frequencies different from their relative frequencies in the present population. • Imagine that in our imaginary wildflower population, white flowers are more visible to herbivorous insects and thus have lower survival. Imagine that red flowers are more visible to pollinators. • Such differences in survival and reproductive success would disturb the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The frequency of the CW allele would decline and the frequency of the CR allele would increase. Genetic drift results from chance fluctuations in allele frequencies in small populations. • Genetic drift occurs when changes in gene frequencies from one generation to another occur because of chance events (sampling errors) that occur in small populations. • For example, you would not be too surprised if a thrown coin produced seven heads and three tails in ten tosses, but you would be surprised if you saw 700 heads and 300 tails in 1,000 tosses—you would expect close to 500 of each. • The smaller the sample, the greater the chance of deviation from the expected result. • In a large population, allele frequencies will not change from generation to generation by chance alone. • However, in a small wildflower population with a stable size of only ten plants, genetic drift can completely eliminate some alleles. • Genetic drift at small population sizes may occur as a result of two situations: the bottleneck effect or the founder effect. • The bottleneck effect occurs when the numbers of individuals in a large population are drastically reduced by a disaster. • By chance, some alleles may be overrepresented and others underrepresented among the survivors. • Some alleles may be eliminated altogether. • Genetic drift will continue to change the gene pool until the population is large enough to eliminate the effect of chance fluctuations. • The bottleneck effect is an important concept in conservation biology of endangered species. • Populations that have suffered bottleneck incidents have lost genetic variation from the gene pool. • This reduces individual variation and may reduce adaptation. • For example, in the 1890s, hunters reduced the population of northern elephant seals in California to 20 individuals. • Now that it is a protected species, the population has increased to more than 30,000. • However, a study of 24 gene loci in a representative sample of seals showed no variation. One allele had been fixed for each gene. • Populations of the closely related southern elephant seal, which did not go through a bottleneck, show abundant genetic variation. • The founder effect occurs when a new population is started by only a few individuals who do not represent the gene pool of the larger source population. • At an extreme, a population could be started by a single pregnant female or single seed with only a tiny fraction of the genetic variation of the source population. • Genetic drift would conti
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