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In Molecular ecology resources

Partial clonality is widespread across the tree of life, but most population genetic models are designed for exclusively clonal or sexual organisms. This gap hampers our understanding of the influence of clonality on evolutionary trajectories and the interpretation of population genetic data. We performed forward simulations of diploid populations at increasing rates of clonality (c), analysed their relationships with genotypic (clonal richness, R, and distribution of clonal sizes, Pareto β) and genetic (FIS and linkage disequilibrium) indices, and tested predictions of c from population genetic data through supervised machine learning. Two complementary behaviours emerged from the probability distributions of genotypic and genetic indices with increasing c. While the impact of c on R and Pareto β was easily described by simple mathematical equations, its effects on genetic indices were noticeable only at the highest levels (c>0.95). Consequently, genotypic indices allowed reliable estimates of c, while genetic descriptors led to poorer performances when c<0.95. These results provide clear baseline expectations for genotypic and genetic diversity and dynamics under partial clonality. Worryingly, however, the use of realistic sample sizes to acquire empirical data systematically led to gross underestimates (often of one to two orders of magnitude) of c, suggesting that many interpretations hitherto proposed in the literature, mostly based on genotypic richness, should be reappraised. We propose future avenues to derive realistic confidence intervals for c and show that, although still approximate, a supervised learning method would greatly improve the estimation of c from population genetic data.

Stoeckel Solenn, Porro Barbara, Arnaud-Haond Sophie


F-statistics, genotypic diversity, population genetics, rates of clonality, sampling