The influence of linkage on the rates of response to continued directional selection of quantitative traits deriving from variation contributed by new mutations in finite populations is investigated. Mutant genes are assumed to have additive effects which are randomly sampled from a symmetric distribution, and to be randomly located on the chromosome. Results were obtained by Monte Carlo simulation.
The expected steady rate of response, when variability from new mutations is balanced by that lost by drift and selection, is reduced the tighter the linkage, but the reduction is small unless there are few, short chromosomes. For a given rate of new mutational variance per haploid chromosome set per generation, greater effects of linkage are obtained in large than in small populations, because more mutants segregate. The response and influence of linkage are essentially the same whether the new variance is due to many genes of small effect or few of large effect.
The variability of response between replicates and generations was investigated, and the contribution to this of new mutants or recombination of existing mutants compared. Usually most genetic variability was due to the occurrence of a new favourable mutant of large effect.