Natural Selection and Genetic Drift

John O. Reiss

in Not by Design

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780520258938
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520944404 | DOI:
Natural Selection and Genetic Drift

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This chapter explores the fundamental distinction between natural selection and genetic drift, starting from a consideration of how they are measured, and suggests that it may not be as fundamental as Wright suggested. It begins by examining the distinction between natural selection and genetic drift at the most basic, physical level—as part of the standardized variance in rate of increase observed in populations. The chapter then provides a brief historical overview of the origin of the concept of genetic drift in the work of Fisher and Wright. Finally, it examines some of the complexities of molecular evolution, such as hitchhiking, meiotic drive, variable selection, mutational bias, recombinational bias, jumping genes, and horizontal gene transfer.

Keywords: natural selection; genetic drift; molecular evolution; hitchhiking; meiotic drive; variable selection; mutational bias; recombinational bias; jumping genes; horizontal gene transfer

Chapter.  14001 words. 

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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