Population genetics

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Population Genetics

Population genetics (pronunciation: /pɒpjʊˈleɪʃən dʒɪˈnɛtɪks/) is a subfield of genetics that deals with genetic differences within and between populations, and is a part of evolutionary biology.


The term "population genetics" was first used in the early 20th century. It is derived from the English word "population", which comes from the Latin 'populus' meaning 'people', and the Greek word "genetics", which comes from 'genesis' meaning 'origin'.


Population genetics involves the study of allele frequency distribution and change under the influence of the four main evolutionary processes: natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and gene flow. It also takes into account the factors of recombination, population subdivision and population structure and their effect on the genotype and phenotype patterns observed in populations.

Related Terms

  • Allele: One of two or more versions of a gene that are found at the same place on a chromosome.
  • Genetic Drift: Variation in the relative frequency of different genotypes in a small population, owing to the chance disappearance of particular genes as individuals die or do not reproduce.
  • Mutation: The changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form that may be transmitted to subsequent generations.
  • Gene Flow: The transfer of genetic variation from one population to another.
  • Recombination: The process by which the combination of genes in an organism's offspring becomes different from the combination of genes in that organism.
  • Population Subdivision: The division of a species' population into physically separated groups.
  • Population Structure: The organization of a population, typically in terms of its spatial distribution or its genetic composition.

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