Inbreeding load, average dominance and the mutation rate for mildly deleterious alleles in Mimulus guttatus.
The goal of this study is to provide information on the genetics of inbreeding depression in a primarily outcrossing population of Mimulus guttatus. Previous studies of this population indicate that there is tremendous inbreeding depression for nearly every fitness component and that almost all of this inbreeding depression is due to mildly deleterious alleles rather than recessive lethals or steriles. In this article I assayed the homozygous and heterozygous fitnesses of 184 highly inbred lines extracted from a natural population. Natural selection during the five generations of selfing involved in line formation essentially eliminated major deleterious alleles but was ineffective in purging alleles with minor fitness effects and did not appreciably diminish overall levels of inbreeding depression. Estimates of the average degree of dominance of these mildly deleterious alleles, obtained from the regression of heterozygous fitness on the sum of parental homozygous fitness, indicate that the detrimental alleles are partially recessive for most fitness traits, with h approximately 0.15 for cumulative measures of fitness. The inbreeding load, B, for total fitness is approximately 1.0 in this experiment. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that spontaneous mildly deleterious mutations occur at a rate >0.1 mutation per genome per generation.
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