TitleSelection bias in mutation accumulation.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsWahl LM, Agashe D
Date Published2022 Jan 06

Mutation accumulation (MA) experiments, in which de novo mutations are sampled and subsequently characterized, are an essential tool in understanding the processes underlying evolution. In microbial populations, MA protocols typically involve a period of population growth between severe bottlenecks, such that a single individual can form a visible colony. While it has long been appreciated that the action of positive selection during this growth phase cannot be eliminated, it is typically assumed to be negligible. Here, we quantify the effect of both positive and negative selection in MA studies, demonstrating that selective effects can substantially bias the distribution of fitness effects (DFE) and mutation rates estimated from typical MA protocols in microbes. We then present a simple correction for this bias which applies to both beneficial and deleterious mutations, and can be used to correct the observed DFE in multiple environments. We use simulated MA experiments to illustrate the extent to which the MA-inferred DFE differs from the underlying true DFE, and demonstrate that the proposed correction accurately reconstructs the true DFE over a wide range of scenarios; we also provide an example of these corrections applied to experimental data. These results highlight that positive selection during microbial MA experiments is in fact not negligible, but can be corrected to gain a more accurate understanding of fundamental evolutionary parameters. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Alternate JournalEvolution
PubMed ID34989408