Genetic Load


A genome never reaches its perfect, optimal state: the shortfall between its current state and its theoretical optimum is called the organism's ‘genetic load’. This load is primarily attributed to mutations, and to sexual recombination breaking apart beneficial combinations of genes.


Crow JF and Kimura M (1970) An Introduction to Population Genetics Theory. New York, NY: Harper and Row.

Hastings IM (1991) Germline selection: population genetics of the sexual/asexual lifecycle. Genetics 129: 1167–1176.

Hastings IM (2000) Models of human genetic disease: how biased are the standard formulae? Genetics Research 75: 107–114.

Kimura M (1961) Some calculations on the mutational load. Japanese Journal of Genetics 36(supplement): 179–190.

Kondrashov AS (1988) Deleterious mutations and the evolution of sexual reproduction. Nature 336: 435–440.

Lynch M, Blanchard J, Houle D, et al. (1999) Perspective: spontaneous deleterious mutation. Evolution 53: 645–663.

Otto SP and Hastings IM (1998) Mutation and selection within the individual. Genetica 102/103: 507–524.

Sadler TW (1995) Langman's Medical Embryology. Baltimore, MD: Williams and Wilkins.

Wallace B (1991) Fifty Years of Genetic Load: An Odyssey. New York, NY: Cornell University Press.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Hastings, Ian M(Jul 2006) Genetic Load. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0005445]