A history of molecular population genetics

In catching up on my reading today, I noticed that Sònia Casillas and Antonio Barbadilla have a review article in the March 2017 issue of Genetics on the history of molecular population genetics. I haven’t had a chance to read it carefully, but I did look it over quickly, and it appears to give a very nice overview of developments from the era of protein electrophoresis to the present day and population genomics. I’m pasting the abstract below, but I encourage you to follow the link and read the whole thing.

Casillas, S., and A. Barbabadilla.  2017.  Molecular population genetics. Genetics 205:1003-1035.  doi:

Molecular population genetics aims to explain genetic variation and molecular evolution from population genetics principles. The field was born 50 years ago with the first measures of genetic variation in allozyme loci, continued with the nucleotide sequencing era, and is currently in the era of population genomics. During this period, molecular population genetics has been revolutionized by progress in data acquisition and theoretical developments. The conceptual elegance of the neutral theory of molecular evolution or the footprint carved by natural selection on the patterns of genetic variation are two examples of the vast number of inspiring findings of population genetics research. Since the inception of the field, Drosophila has been the prominent model species: molecular variation in populations was first described in Drosophila and most of the population genetics hypotheses were tested in Drosophila species. In this review, we describe the main concepts, methods, and landmarks of molecular population genetics, using the Drosophila model as a reference. We describe the different genetic data sets made available by advances in molecular technologies, and the theoretical developments fostered by these data. Finally, we review the results and new insights provided by the population genomics approach, and conclude by enumerating challenges and new lines of inquiry posed by increasingly large population scale sequence data.

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