Many features of virus populations make them excellent candidates for population genetic study, including a very high rate of mutation, high levels of nucleotide diversity, exceptionally large census population sizes, and frequent positive selection. However, these attributes also mean that special care must be taken in population genetic inference. For example, highly skewed offspring distributions, frequent and severe population bottleneck events associated with infection and compartmentalization, and strong purifying selection all affect the distribution of genetic variation but are often not taken into account. Here, we draw particular attention to multiple-merger coalescent events and background selection, discuss potential misinference associated with these processes, and highlight potential avenues for better incorporating them into future population genetic analyses.
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