Deleterious variation and genetic load in inbred Scandinavian wolves.

The present Scandinavian wolf population was founded by three individuals around 40 years ago, after the original population had been hunted to extinction. Because of the small number of founders and the fact that they are geographically isolated from the nearest other wolf population which makes further immigration sparse, the population is extremely inbred. To see how this affects the genetic load, we used functional annotation and evolutionary conservation scores to study deleterious variation in a total of 209 genomes from the Scandinavian population as well as neighbouring populations in Finland and Russia. Our observations provide genome-wide insight into the magnitude of genetic load and genetic rescue at the molecular level, and in relation to population history.