Inbreeding depression (ID) has since long been recognized as a significant factor in evolutionary biology. It is mainly the consequence of (partially) recessive deleterious mutations maintained by mutation-selection balance in large random mating populations. When population size is reduced, recessive alleles are increasingly found in homozygous condition due to drift and inbreeding and become more prone to selection. Particularly at slow rates of drift and inbreeding, selection will be more effective in purging such alleles, thereby reducing the amount of ID. Here we test assumptions of the efficiency of purging in relation to the inbreeding rate and the experimental conditions for four traits in D. melanogaster. We investigated the magnitude of ID for lines that were inbred to a similar level, F ≈ 0.50, reached either by three generations of full-sib mating (fast inbreeding), or by 12 consecutive generations with a small population size (slow inbreeding). This was done on two different food media. We observed significant ID for egg-to-adult viability and heat shock mortality, but only for egg-to-adult viability a significant part of the expressed inbreeding depression was effectively purged under slow inbreeding. For other traits like developmental time and starvation resistance, however, adaptation to the experimental and environmental conditions during inbreeding might affect the likelihood of purging to occur or being detected. We discuss factors that can affect the efficiency of purging and why empirical evidence for purging may be ambiguous.
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All data presented in the paper are deposited in Dryad https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.rfj6q579k.
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We are grateful to Doth Andersen and Annemarie Højmark for technical help, and the Danish Natural Sciences Research Council (FNU, grant 4002-00113B) for financial support to VL. We thank three reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier version of the paper.
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Bundgaard, J., Loeschcke, V., Schou, M.F. et al. Detecting purging of inbreeding depression by a slow rate of inbreeding for various traits: the impact of environmental and experimental conditions. Heredity 127, 10–20 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41437-021-00436-7