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Background

The concept of mutational variance can be found in many articles including this one for example. The mutational variance of a trait number $i$ can be found in the M-matrix in position $m_{ii}$ (in the diagonal). Elements of the off-diagonal represent mutation covariance. For example element at position $m_{ij}$ of the M-maitrx is the mutational covariance between traits $i$ and $j$. More info about the M (and G) matrix can be found here.

Question

What does "Mutational Variance" mean? What does it mean for a population to have a high or a low mutational variance?

Does "mutational variance" refers to:

  • Average effect of new mutations on fitness (mutational effect) (parameter $s$)
  • Variance in the effect of new mutations on fitness (variance in $s$)
  • Average effect of new mutations on phenotype
  • Variance in the effect of new mutations on phenotype
  • The increase in genetic variance ($V_G$) due to a new mutation
  • The increase in additive genetic variance ($V_A$) due to a new mutation
  • Genetic variance in the population at mutation-selection-drift equilibrium.
  • Is it a concept that is opposed to genetic canalization?
  • ...
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In Pigliucci (2004) (repeated in Hansen (2006)) the mutational variance is defined as being the new additive genetic variance entering in the population each generation due to mutations.

In consequence the mutational variance is not define at the level of the mutation in the sense that we do not care about how many mutations yield to this new genetic variance. So none of the suggestions of possible answers in the OP's question is correct.

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