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Demographic history shaped geographical patterns of deleterious mutation load in a broadly distributed Pacific Salmon

by Quentin Rougemont, Jean-Sébastien Moore, Thibault Leroy, Eric Normandeau, Eric B. Rondeau, Ruth E. Withler, Donald M. Van Doornik, Penelope A. Crane, Kerry A. Naish, John Carlos Garza, Terry D. Beacham, Ben F. Koop, Louis Bernatchez

A thorough reconstruction of historical processes is essential for a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms shaping patterns of genetic diversity. Indeed, past and current conditions influencing effective population size have important evolutionary implications for the efficacy of selection, increased accumulation of deleterious mutations, and loss of adaptive potential. Here, we gather extensive genome-wide data that represent the extant diversity of the Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) to address two objectives. We demonstrate that a single glacial refugium is the source of most of the present-day genetic diversity, with detectable inputs from a putative secondary micro-refugium. We found statistical support for a scenario whereby ancestral populations located south of the ice sheets expanded recently, swamping out most of the diversity from other putative micro-refugia. Demographic inferences revealed that genetic diversity was also affected by linked selection in large parts of the genome. Moreover, we demonstrate that the recent demographic history of this species generated regional differences in the load of deleterious mutations among populations, a finding that mirrors recent results from human populations and provides increased support for models of expansion load. We propose that insights from these historical inferences should be better integrated in conservation planning of wild organisms, which currently focuses largely on neutral genetic diversity and local adaptation, with the role of potentially maladaptive variation being generally ignored.

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