How many people are needed to avoid inbreeding in a population?

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Offline thedoc

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Louise Faldalen Prytz  asked the Naked Scientists:
I have a question that I've never found an answer to: how many people are needed to avoid inbreeding in a population? Take Iceland, with its remote location and few people, how have they managed to avoid it, and how many are needed?

I've recently discovered your podcasts and I'm fervently listening to everyone of them.

Best regards, Louise

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 29/07/2015 03:50:03 by _system »


Offline evan_au

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Iceland actually has a very uniform genetic content, which has made it a useful testing ground for discovering the impact of mutations in individuals.

There is a hypothesis that all humans alive today inherited their mitochondria from just 6 women - although they probably did not live at the same time, and they would have been part of a larger human population.

Another hypothesis is that the eruption of the Toba supervolcano reduced the human population of the day down to perhaps 3,000 to 10,000.


Offline Pecos_Bill

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As can be seen in the current field of GOP candidates, a significant proportion of the southern US population marry their cousins. How else can you explain such a lamentable jerk parade having been elected in those states?

As to Iceland, they have a complete genealogy going back centuries. Accidental consanguinity is, therefore, rare.

You may have heard the calypso song, "Shame and Scandal". A young couple's wedding plans are dashed when the boy's father tells him. "That girl is your sister, but your Mama don't know!" Fortunately true love prevails when the mother tells them, "Your Daddy ain't your Daddy, but your Daddy don't know!"(1.)

« Last Edit: 29/07/2015 19:09:20 by Pecos_Bill »