We apply new analytical methods to understand the consequences of population bottlenecks for expected additive genetic variance. We analyze essentially all models for multilocus epistasis that have been numerically simulated to demonstrate increased additive variance. We conclude that for biologically plausible models, large increases in expected additive variance—attributable to epistasis rather than dominance—are unlikely. Naciri-Graven and Goudet (2003) found that as the number of epistatically interacting loci increases, additive variance tends to be inflated more after a bottleneck. We argue that this result reflects biologically unrealistic aspects of their models. Specifically, as the number of loci increases, higher-order epistatic interactions become increasingly important in these models, with an increasing fraction of the genetic variance becoming nonadditive, contrary to empirical observations. As shown by Barton and Turelli (2004), without dominance, conversion of nonadditive to additive variance depends only on the variance components and not on the number of loci per se. Numerical results indicating that more inbreeding is needed to produce maximal release of additive variance with more loci follow directly from our analytical results, which show that high levels of inbreeding (F > 0.5) are needed for significant conversion of higher-order components. We discuss alternative approaches to modeling multilocus epistasis and understanding its consequences.
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Vol. 60 • No. 9