genetic drift


: random changes in gene frequency especially in small populations when leading to preservation or extinction of particular genes

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The magnitude of genetic drift as a frequency is inversely proportional to population size. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 13 Sep. 2012 The concept has since been adapted to model stock market fluctuations, population genetics (specifically genetic drift), and neuron firing in the brain, among other applications. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 9 Feb. 2023 Small, isolated groups of Oriental domestics gradually acquired distinctive coat colors and other mutations through a process known as genetic drift, in which traits that are neither beneficial nor maladaptive become fixed in a population. Andrew C. Kitchener, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2015 These variants are different from BA.4 and BA.5, but they’re descended from those viruses, the result of genetic drift. Brenda Goodman, CNN, 20 Oct. 2022 In the more extreme cases this produces recessive diseases (and because inbreeding reduces effective population and increases the power of random genetic drift deleterious recessives can even fix within a population rather quickly). Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 18 July 2013 Recall that random genetic drift changes allele frequencies due to conventional sampling processes, with greater variation generation to generation across small populations. Razib Khan, Discover Magazine, 24 July 2013 As for the disparity in skull features, a number of factors, including diet and random genetic drift, could account for differences in appearance between modern Native Americans and Kennewick Man. Zach Zorich, Discover Magazine, 25 Feb. 2016 Elephants and mammoths share over 99 percent of their DNA, and the genetic profile of any species can change over time, through adaptation and genetic drift. Andy Lamey, The New Republic, 15 Dec. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'genetic drift.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

1945, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of genetic drift was in 1945

Dictionary Entries Near genetic drift

Cite this Entry

“Genetic drift.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 2023.

Medical Definition

genetic drift

: random changes in gene frequency especially in small populations when leading to preservation or extinction of particular genes

More from Merriam-Webster on genetic drift

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