What is genetic flow?

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Feb 9, 2018


Gene flow is a concept in population genetics to refer to the movement of genes or alleles between interbreeding populations of a particular species.


Gene flow is an important mechanism for transferring genetic diversity among populations. Migrants into and out of a population may result in a change in allele frequencies, thus changing the distribution of genetic diversity within the populations. High rates of gene flow can reduce the genetic differentiation between the two groups, increasing homogeneity.

It is thought that gene flow constrains speciation by combining the gene pools of the groups and thus, prevents the development of differences in genetic variations that would have led to full speciation. It is expected to be lower in species that have low dispersal or mobility, occur in fragmented habitats, there is a long distance between populations, and smaller population sizes.

It includes different kinds of events, such as pollen being blown to a new destination or people moving to new cities or countries. However, there are certain factors that serve as barriers to gene flow. Some of the factors affecting the rate of gene flow include physical barriers, geological events and geographical barriers.

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