Manuscript received August 22, 1995 Accepted for publication February 28, 1996 ABSTRACT Microsatellites are promising genetic markers for studying the demographic structure and phylogenetic history of populations.W present theoretical arguments indicating the usefulness of e that microsatellite data for these purposes be limited to a short time perspective and to relatively small populamay tions. The evolution selectively neutral markersis governed b the interaction mutation and random of y of same genetic drift. Mutation pressure has the inherent tendency to shift different populations to the distribution of alleles. Hence, mutation pressure is a homogenizing force, and population divergence is caused by random genetic drift. In case of allozymes or sequence data, the diversifylng effect of drift is typically orders of magnitude larger than the homogenizing effect of mutation pressure.By a simple model, w demonstrate that the situation may be different for microsatellites where e mutation rates are high and the range of alleles is limited. With the help of computer simulations,we investigate to what extent genetic distancemeasures applied to microsatellite data can nevertheless yield useful estimators for phylogenetic relationships demographic parameters. show that predictions based on microsator We ellite data are quite reliable in small populations, but that already
Genetics – Genetics Society of America
Published: Jun 1, 1996
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