I'm reading the wikipidia page on Panmixia.

Panmixia (or panmixis) means random mating. A panmictic population is one where all individuals are potential partners. This assumes that there are no mating restrictions, neither genetic nor behavioural, upon the population and that therefore all recombination is possible. The Wahlund effect assumes that the overall population is panmictic.

In genetics, random mating[4] involves the mating of individuals regardless of any physical, genetic or social preference. In other words, the mating between two organisms is not influenced by any environmental, hereditary or social interaction. Hence, potential mates have an equal chance of being selected. Random mating is a factor assumed in the Hardy–Weinberg principle and is distinct from lack of natural selection: in viability selection for instance, selection occurs before mating.

Now, I would guess from this definition that Panmixia is a condition that almost never occurs, that in the vast majority of cases, there is some sexual selection going on which makes some pairings more likely than others.

But the way the page is written seems to suggest that this is a pretty normal condition of populations, or at lead doesn't mention that it is a "spherical cow" abstraction.

Am I missing something here?


1 Answer 1


Broadcast spawning aquatic animals such as clams, and wind-pollinated plants like grasses are all panmictic - both randomly discharge gametes into their environment, where they are randomly mixed and eventually matched, meaning that in theory any individual in such a species can produce offspring with any other individual in that species. And the textbook is correct - aquatic broadcast spawners and wind-pollinated plants are ubiquitous in their respective environments, so panmixia isn't unusual or rare at all.

  • $\begingroup$ I agree, it is very common. Maybe not in vertebrates, but plants, fungi and bacteria (if you consider horizontal gene transfer a type of sex) tend to be panmictic. $\endgroup$
    – Niklas
    Commented May 10 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ Not fungi. Fungi can have potentially hundreds of "mating types", and two fungi can only procreate if their mating types match. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11 at 10:08

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