Professional Education

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University Of Otago (2008)

Stanford Advisors


Journal Articles

  • Models of frequency-dependent selection with mutation from parental alleles. Genetics Trotter, M. V., Spencer, H. G. 2013; 195 (1): 231-242


    Frequency-dependent selection (FDS) remains a common heuristic explanation for the maintenance of genetic variation in natural populations. The pairwise-interaction model (PIM) is a well-studied general model of frequency-dependent selection, which assumes that a genotype's fitness is a function of within-population intergenotypic interactions. Previous theoretical work indicated that this type of model is able to sustain large numbers of alleles at a single locus when it incorporates recurrent mutation. These studies, however, have ignored the impact of the distribution of fitness effects of new mutations on the dynamics and end-results of polymorphism construction. We suggest that a natural way to model mutation would be to assume mutant fitness is related to the fitness of the parental allele, i.e., the existing allele from which the mutant arose. Here we examine the numbers and distributions of fitnesses and alleles produced by construction under the PIM with mutation from parental alleles, and the impacts on such measures due to different methods of generating mutant fitnesses. We find that, in comparison with previous results, generating mutants from existing alleles lowers the average number of alleles likely to be observed in a system subject to FDS, but produces polymorphisms that are highly stable and have realistic allele-frequency distributions.

    View details for DOI 10.1534/genetics.113.152496

    View details for PubMedID 23852384

  • Beyond the mean: sensitivities of the variance of population growth METHODS IN ECOLOGY AND EVOLUTION Trotter, M. V., Krishna-Kumar, S., Tuljapurkar, S. 2013; 4 (3): 290-298
  • Robustness and Evolvability TRENDS IN GENETICS Masel, J., Trotter, M. V. 2010; 26 (9): 406-414


    Why isn't random variation always deleterious? Are there factors that sometimes make adaptation easier? Biological systems are extraordinarily robust to perturbation by mutations, recombination and the environment. It has been proposed that this robustness might make them more evolvable. Robustness to mutation allows genetic variation to accumulate in a cryptic state. Switching mechanisms known as evolutionary capacitors mean that the amount of heritable phenotypic variation available can be correlated to the degree of stress and hence to the novelty of the environment and remaining potential for adaptation. There have been two somewhat separate literatures relating robustness to evolvability. One has focused on molecular phenotypes and new mutations, the other on morphology and cryptic genetic variation. Here, we review both literatures, and show that the true distinction is whether recombination rates are high or low. In both cases, the evidence supports the claim that robustness promotes evolvability.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tig.2010.06.002

    View details for Web of Science ID 000282200100005

    View details for PubMedID 20598394

  • Complex dynamics occur in a single-locus, multiallelic model of general frequency-dependent selection THEORETICAL POPULATION BIOLOGY Trotter, M. V., Spencer, H. G. 2009; 76 (4): 292-298


    We examine the characteristics of non-equilibrium dynamics produced by a simple well-known model of frequency-dependent selection at a single diploid locus. An examination of the parameter space of this "pairwise-interaction model" (PIM) revealed non-equilibrium dynamics for polymorphisms of 3, 4 and 5 alleles; both allele-frequency cycling and aperiodic trajectories were detected. We measured the number, cycle length and domains of attraction of the various attractors produced by the model. The domains of attraction tended to be smaller, and the cycles longer, for systems with larger number of alleles. Fitnesses that parametrized negative frequency-dependent selection were more likely to allow cycling, and these cycles also had larger domains of attraction. Aperiodic trajectories were detected only in cases with 4 or 5 alleles. The genetic cycles produced by the model do not have periods as short as those predicted in ecological models with cycling (such as predator-prey population cycles, etc.). Consequently, in a real-world system, PIM allele-frequency cycling is likely to be indistinguishable from stable equilibria when observed over short time scales.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tpb.2009.09.003

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272276900008

    View details for PubMedID 19819249

  • The Generation and Maintenance of Genetic Variation by Frequency-Dependent Selection: Constructing Polymorphisms Under the Pairwise Interaction Model GENETICS Trotter, M. V., Spencer, H. G. 2008; 180 (3): 1547-1557


    Frequency-dependent selection remains the most commonly invoked heuristic explanation for the maintenance of genetic variation. For polymorphism to exist, new alleles must be both generated and maintained in the population. Here we use a construction approach to model frequency-dependent selection with mutation under the pairwise interaction model. The pairwise interaction model is a general model of frequency-dependent selection at the genotypic level. We find that frequency-dependent selection is able to generate a large number of alleles at a single locus. The construction process generates multiallelic polymorphisms with a wide range of allele-frequency distributions and genotypic fitness relationships. Levels of polymorphism and mean fitness are uncoupled, so constructed polymorphisms remain permanently invasible to new mutants; thus the model never settles down to an equilibrium state. Analysis of constructed fitness sets reveals signatures of heterozygote advantage and positive frequency dependence.

    View details for DOI 10.1534/genetics.108.088880

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261036200024

    View details for PubMedID 18791254

  • Evolution of fitnesses in structured populations with correlated environments GENETICS Star, B., Trotter, M. V., Spencer, H. G. 2008; 179 (3): 1469-1478


    The outcome of selection in structured populations with spatially varying selection pressures depends on the interaction of two factors: the level of gene flow and the amount of heterogeneity among the demes. Here we investigate the effect of three different levels of spatial heterogeneity on the levels of genetic polymorphisms for different levels of gene flow, using a construction approach in which a population is constantly bombarded with new mutations. We further compare the relative importance of two kinds of balancing selection (heterozygote advantage and selection arising from spatial heterogeneity), the level of adaptation and the stability of the resulting polymorphic equilibria. The different levels of environmental heterogeneity and gene flow have a large influence on the final level of polymorphism. Both factors also influence the relative importance of the two kinds of balancing selection in the maintenance of variation. In particular, selection arising from spatial heterogeneity does not appear to be an important form of balancing selection for the most homogeneous scenario. The level of adaptation is highest for low levels of gene flow and, at those levels, remarkably similar for the different levels of spatial heterogeneity, whereas for higher levels of gene flow the level of adaptation is substantially reduced.

    View details for DOI 10.1534/genetics.108.087817

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258313400027

    View details for PubMedID 18562645

  • Frequency-dependent selection and the maintenance of genetic variation: Exploring the parmneter space of the multiallelic pairwise interaction model GENETICS Trotter, M. V., Spencer, H. G. 2007; 176 (3): 1729-1740


    When individuals' fitnesses depend on the genetic composition of the population in which they are found, selection is then frequency dependent. Frequency-dependent selection (FDS) is often invoked as a heuristic explanation for the maintenance of large numbers of alleles at a locus. The pairwise interaction model is a general model of FDS via intraspecific competition at the genotypic level. Here we use a parameter-space approach to investigate the full potential for the maintenance of multiallelic equilibria under the pairwise interaction model. We find that FDS maintains full polymorphism more often than classic constant-selection models and produces more skewed equilibrium allele frequencies. Fitness sets with some degree of rare advantage maintained full polymorphism most often, but a wide variety of nonobvious fitness patterns were also found to have positive potential for polymorphism. An example is put forth suggesting possible explanations for multiallelic polymorphisms maintained despite positive FDS on individual alleles.

    View details for DOI 10.1534/genetics.107.073072

    View details for Web of Science ID 000248416300029

    View details for PubMedID 17483410

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