Negative selection (natural selection)

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In natural selection, negative selection[1] or purifying selection is the selective removal of alleles that are deleterious. This can result in stabilizing selection through the purging of deleterious variations that arise.

Purging of deleterious alleles can be achieved on the population genetics level, with as little as a single point mutation being the unit of selection. In such a case, carriers of the harmful point mutation have fewer offspring each generation, reducing the frequency of the mutation in the gene pool.

In the case of strong negative selection on a locus, the purging of deleterious variants will result in the occasional removal of linked variation, producing a decrease in the level of variation surrounding the locus under selection. The incidental purging of non-deleterious alleles due to such spatial proximity to deleterious alleles is called background selection.[2] This effect increases with lower mutation rate but decreases with higher recombination rate.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Loewe, L. (2008). Negative selection. Nature Education 1(1).
  2. ^ Charlesworth, B., Morgan, M. T. and Charlesworth, D. 1993. The effect of deleterious mutations on neutral molecular variation. Genetics 134, 1289-1303. Link
  3. ^ Hudson RR, Kaplan NL (December 1995). "Deleterious background selection with recombination". Genetics. 141 (4): 1605–17. PMC 1206891Freely accessible. PMID 8601498.