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founder effectJoe Segen2017-01-06T13:17:47+00:00
Definition A term of art for the loss of genetic variation that occurs in a group founded by a very small non-representative sample of a larger population.
Comment The founder effect results when a small subgroup of a species establishes itself as a separate and isolated entity in an ecosystem or location, and is well described in the Amish, Mennonites, and Ashkenazi Jews. In humans, founder effects can arise from cultural isolation in addition to physical isolation, which inevitably leads to endogamy. The founder colony or group carries with it only a fraction of the gene pool of the parent population, resulting in an increase in certain diseases.