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No evidence that natural selection has been less effective at removing deleterious mutations in Europeans than in West Africans

By Ron Do, Daniel Balick, Heng Li, Ivan Adzhubei, Shamil R. Sunyaev, David Reich

Posted 20 Feb 2014
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/002865 (published DOI: 10.1038/ng.3186)

Non-African populations have experienced major bottlenecks in the time since their split from West Africans, which has led to the hypothesis that natural selection to remove weakly deleterious mutations may have been less effective in non-Africans. To directly test this hypothesis, we measure the per-genome accumulation of deleterious mutations across diverse humans. We fail to detect any significant differences, but find that archaic Denisovans accumulated non-synonymous mutations at a higher rate than modern humans, consistent with the longer separation time of modern and archaic humans. We also revisit the empirical patterns that have been interpreted as evidence for less effective removal of deleterious mutations in non-Africans than in West Africans, and show they are not driven by differences in selection after population separation, but by neutral evolution.

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