The effect of population bottlenecks on the components of the genetic covariance generated by two neutral independent epistatic loci has been studied theoretically (additive, covA; dominance, covD; additive-by-additive, covAA; additive-by-dominance, covAD; and dominance-by-dominance, covDD). The additive-by-additive model and a more general model covering all possible types of marginal gene action at the single-locus level (additive/dominance epistatic model) were considered. The covariance components in an infinitely large panmictic population (ancestral components) were compared with their expected values at equilibrium over replicates randomly derived from the base population, after t consecutive bottlenecks of equal size N (derived components). Formulae were obtained in terms of the allele frequencies and effects at each locus, the corresponding epistatic effects and the inbreeding coefficient Ft. These expressions show that the contribution of nonadditive loci to the derived additive covariance (covAt) does not linearly decrease with inbreeding, as in the pure additive case, and may initially increase or even change sign in specific situations. Numerical examples were also analyzed, restricted for simplicity to the case of all covariance components being positive. For additive-by-additive epistasis, the condition covAt > covA only holds for high frequencies of the allele decreasing the metric traits at each locus (negative allele) if epistasis is weak, or for intermediate allele frequencies if it is strong. For the additive/dominance epistatic model, however, covAt > covA applies for low frequencies of the negative alleles at one or both loci and mild epistasis, but this result can be progressively extended to intermediate frequencies as epistasis becomes stronger. Without epistasis the same qualitative results were found, indicating that marginal dominance induced by epistasis can be considered as the primary cause of an increase of the additive covariance after bottlenecks. For all models, the magnitude of the ratio covAt/covA was inversely related to N and t.
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Vol. 58 • No. 8