Genetic Variation Versus Recombination Rate in a Structured Population of Mice

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The correlation between genetic variation and recombination rate was investigated in a structured mouse population. Nucleotide sequence data from 19 autosomal DNA loci from eight inbred strains of mouse (Mus musculus) sampled from three major subspecies were analyzed. The recombination rate was estimated from the comparison of genetic and physical map distances between markers flanking a 10-cM region of each locus. The strains were categorized into four groups (subpopulations) based on geography. By partitioning the genetic diversity into within-group and among-group variation, we detected a positive correlation between the recombination rate and nucleotide diversity within groups. The level of nucleotide differentiation among groups (GST) showed a negative correlation with the rate of recombination. There was no significant correlation between recombination rate and nucleotide diversity when data from different subpopulations were pooled. No correlation was detected between recombination rate and nucleotide divergence of M. musculus and M. spicilegus. These patterns deviate from the strict neutral expectation under the constant nucleotide substitution rate, and they are likely to have been formed either by a hitchhiking effect of positively selected mutants or by background selection of deleterious mutants occurring in a subdivided population. Our series of comparisons show that because a real population always has some structure, incorporation of its information is important in detecting non-neutral evolution.

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