• Experimental evolution;
  • extinction probability;
  • fixation;
  • mathematical model;
  • population bottleneck;
  • serial passage.

Abstract Population bottlenecks affect the dynamics of evolution, increasing the probability that beneficial mutations will be lost. Recent protocols for the experimental study of evolution involve repeated bottlenecks–when fresh media are inoculated during serial transfer or when chemostat tubes are changed. Unlike population reductions caused by stochastic environmental factors, these bottlenecks occur at known, regular intervals and with a fixed dilution ratio. We derive the ultimate probability of extinction for a beneficial mutation in a periodically bottlenecked population, using both discrete and continuous approaches. We show that both approaches yield the same approximation for extinction probability. From this, we derive an approximate expression for an effective population size.