Modern population genetics underwent a major paradigm shift during the last decade of the 20th century with the discovery that thousands of genes of known function and position in a genome can be analyzed simultaneously in a single individual. The impact of this technology on insect population genetics is potentially profound. Sampling distributions of genetic statistics can now be derived from many individual loci or among many segregating sites within a gene. Inferences regarding random mating, gene flow, effective population sizes, disequilibrium, and relatedness among populations can now be based on patterns of variation at many loci. More importantly, genome-wide sampling enables population geneticists to distinguish effects that act on the whole genome from those that act on individual loci or nucleotides. We introduce the term “population genomics” to describe the process of simultaneous sampling of numerous variable loci within a genome and the inference of locus-specific effects from the sample distributions. The four critical assumptions implicit in the population genomics approach are explained in detail. Studies adopting this paradigm are reviewed, and the steps necessary to complete a population genomics study are outlined.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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