Time and chance happeneth to them all: Mutation, selection and recombination

Sat, Oct 15, 2011
Many multi-cellular organisms exhibit remarkably similar patterns of aging and mortality. Because this phenomenon appears to arise from the complex interaction of many genes, it has been a challenge to explain it quantitatively as a response to natural selection. I survey attempts by me and my collaborators to build a framework for understanding how mutation, selection and recombination acting on many genes combine to shape the distribution of genotypes in a large population. A genotype drawn at random from the population at a given time is described in our model by a Poisson random measure on the space of loci, and hence its distribution is characterized by the associated intensity measure. The intensity measures evolve according to a continuous-time, measure-valued dynamical system. I present general results on the existence and uniqueness of this dynamical system, how it arises as a limit of discrete generation systems, and the nature of its equilibria.

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