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Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Genet. | doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.00843

Optimal management of genetic diversity in subdivided populations

  • 1Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Vigo, Spain
  • 2Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Spain
  • 3University of Vigo, Spain

One of the main objectives of conservation programs is the maintenance of genetic diversity, as this provides the adaptive potential of populations to face new environmental challenges. Genetic diversity is generally assessed by means of neutral molecular markers, and it is usually quantified by the expected heterozygosity under Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and the number of alleles per locus, or allelic diversity. These two measures of genetic diversity are complementary because, whereas the former is directly related to genetic variance for quantitative traits and, therefore, to the short-term response to selection and adaptation, the latter is more sensitive to population bottlenecks and relates more strongly to the long-term capacity of adaptation of populations. In the context of structured populations undergoing conservation programs, it is important to decide the optimum management strategy in order to preserve as much genetic diversity as possible, while avoiding inbreeding. Here we examine, through computer simulations, the consequences of choosing a conservation strategy based on maximizing either heterozygosity or allelic diversity of SNP haplotypes in a subdivided population. Our results suggest that maximization of allelic diversity can be more efficient in maintaining the genetic diversity of subdivided populations than maximization of expected heterozygosity, because the former maintains a larger number of alleles while making a better control of inbreeding. Thus, maximization of allelic diversity should be a recommended strategy in conservation programs for structured populations.

Keywords: conservation genetics, Population management, Allelic diversity, Heterozygosity (H), Gene diversity., Genetic Markers, SNP, Haplotypes

Received: 20 Apr 2019; Accepted: 13 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 López-Cortegano, Pouso, Labrador, Pérez-Figueroa, Fernández and Caballero. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Armando Caballero, University of Vigo, Vigo, Spain, armando@uvigo.es