Mutations that confer a selective advantage to an organism are the raw material upon which natural selection acts. The number of such mutations that are available is a central quantity of interest for understanding the tempo and trajectory of adaptive evolution. While this quantity is typically unknown, it can be estimated with varying levels of accuracy based on data obtained experimentally. We propose a method for estimating the number of beneficial mutations that accounts for the evolutionary forces that generate the data. Our model-based parametric approach is compared to an adjusted nonparametric abundance-based coverage estimator. We show that, in general, our estimator performs better. When the number of mutations is small, however, the performances of the two estimators are similar.
©2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston