ISSN 1022-7954, Russian Journal of Genetics, 2006, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 234–246. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2006.
Original Russian Text © V.S. Artamonova and A.A. Makhrov, 2006, published in Genetika, 2006, Vol. 42, No. 3, pp. 310–324.
As recently as a century and a half ago, people could
allow themselves to overlook the process of biological
evolution. To date, changes in the biosphere became one
of the most urgent problems of humanity: “good old”
species have been vanishing at an astonishing rate, along
with the appearance of new forms of pests, weeds, and
hazardous infectious agents. These processes are studied
by a novel science, conservation genetics .
Apparently, clear understanding of evolution of the
living matter is essential for preserving the biosphere
diversity in its totality. The main factors of evolution
are well-known: these are random processes, interspe-
ciﬁc hybridization, migration, mutation, and selection.
However, no consensus on their contribution to the evo-
lutionary process has been reached yet. The problem
formulated by Mayr  is still relevant:
“At present, most discussions deal with comparative
signiﬁcance of various interacting factors. We will get
very different answers to the following questions asked
to modern evolutionists:
What is the evolutionary signiﬁcance of random
How important is the role of hybridization in evolu-
What are the consequences of gene exchange
What proportion of new mutations is beneﬁcial?
Which part of genetic variation is accounted for by
It seems that answers to these questions must be
provided experimentally. But experiments examining
genetic processes in populations have serious draw-
backs. A too strict experiment with many restrictions
yields only a theoretical model, which conﬁrms our
views but does not provide comprehensive information
on natural populations. On the other hand, in an exper-
imental test of a phenomenon in natural, uncontrolled
conditions, the results may be too vague for choosing
between the alternative hypotheses .
Fortunately for researchers, in addition to the two
groups of natural and experimental populations, men-
tioned above, there is a third group consisting of artiﬁ-
cially maintained populations . Apart from the fact
that understanding genetic processes in these popula-
tions is of great practical signiﬁcance, we believe that
they serve as an ideal “testing ground” for studying gene
pool dynamics. Artiﬁcial populations include strains
maintained in laboratories; groups of individuals of rare
species, bred in zoos or botanical gardens; and groups of
ﬁsh, reproduced in hatcheries. Part of the life cycle of
individuals from such populations may pass in a natural
environment (for instance, in hatcheries juvenile ﬁsh are
in many cases released into natural reservoirs to feed).
Here, we analyze only the cases, when the individu-
als were not purposefully selected by researchers for
some traits. However, selection exerts some effect on
domestic creatures, irrespective of man’s will or even
against it . Thus mode of selection was termed
, or, more aptly,
. In English-language literature, terms
are generally used. We
will refer as
to all genetic processes that
occur irrespective of humans in artiﬁcial environments.
In the review, we present the factual material on
these processes available in literature. The limited
space does not allow us to analyze studies on mathe-
matical simulation of these processes and studies on the
development of procedures to suppress them (see 
for review). We also omit from consideration the results
of experiments, in which the organisms were reared
under clearly adverse conditions .
Unintentional Genetic Processes
in Artificially Maintained Populations:
Proving the Leading Role of Selection in Evolution
V. S. Artamonova and A. A. Makhrov
Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 119991 Russia;
Received September 1, 2005
—The review considers studies examining artiﬁcially maintained populations as models for under-
standing biological evolution. The key factors of gene pool evolution—random processes, interspeciﬁc hybrid-
ization, migration, mutation, and selection—are analyzed. We present evidence indicating that selection is the
leading evolutionary factor that regulates the operation of other factors, directly or through genetic systems.