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Keywords:

  • Batesian mimicry;
  • cereals;
  • gene flow;
  • reproductive system;
  • supergene

The process of domestication leads to acquisition of traits that are often similar between plant species that belong to the same family but have different breeding systems. Hence domestication is a useful model for studying evolutionary responses to selection in plants with contrasting breeding systems. We consider a stochastic model simulating gene flow between a natural population and an initial population containing mutants with domesticated phenotypes at low frequency. We assume that a large number of loci contribute equally to the cultivated phenotype. Our results indicate that the number of loci for which the mutant (‘domestication’) allele is maintained is larger in autogamous plants than in allogamous ones and that domestication can lead to the selection of tightly linked combinations of genes in allogamous plants. This work provides a general model for the selection of gene clusters through a sieve effect and it is discussed in comparison with models proposed to explain the evolution of linkage of genes determining wing patterns in butterflies exhibiting Batesian mimicry.