Inferring parameters of the distribution of fitness effects of new mutations when beneficial mutations are strongly advantageous and rare
AbstractCharacterising the distribution of fitness effects (DFE) for new mutations is central in evolutionary genetics. Analysis of molecular data under the McDonald-Kreitman test has suggested that adaptive substitutions make a substantial contribution to between-species divergence. Methods have been proposed to estimate the parameters of the distribution of fitness effects for positively selected mutations from the unfolded site frequency spectrum (uSFS). However, when beneficial mutations
... ficial mutations are strongly selected and rare, they may make little contribution to standing variation and will thus be difficult to detect from the uSFS. In this study, I analyse uSFS data from simulated populations subject to advantageous mutations with effects on fitness ranging from mildly to strongly beneficial. When advantageous mutations are strongly selected and rare, there are very few segregating in populations at any one time. Fitting the uSFS in such cases leads to erroneous parameter estimates which may lead researchers to false conclusions regarding the relative contribution adaptive mutations make to molecular evolution. Fortunately, the parameters for the distribution of fitness effects for harmful mutations are typically estimated with high accuracy and precision. The results from this study suggest that the parameters of positively selected mutations obtained by analysis of the uSFS should be treated with caution and suggest that variability at linked sites should be used in conjunction with standing variability to estimate parameters of the distribution of fitness effects in the future.