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Genetics. Jun 2000; 155(2): 685–698.
PMCID: PMC1461098

Effect of inversion polymorphism on the neutral nucleotide variability of linked chromosomal regions in Drosophila.


Recombination is a main factor determining nucleotide variability in different regions of the genome. Chromosomal inversions, which are ubiquitous in the genus Drosophila, are known to reduce and redistribute recombination, and thus their specific effect on nucleotide variation may be of major importance as an explanatory factor for levels of DNA variation. Here, we use the coalescent approach to study this effect. First, we develop analytical expressions to predict nucleotide variability in old inversion polymorphisms that have reached mutation-drift-flux equilibrium. The effects on nucleotide variability of a new arrangement appearing in the population and reaching a stable polymorphism are then studied by computer simulation. We show that inversions modulate nucleotide variability in a complex way. The establishment of an inversion polymorphism involves a partial selective sweep that eliminates part of the variability in the population. This is followed by a slow convergence to the equilibrium values. During this convergence, regions close to the breakpoints exhibit much lower variability than central regions. However, at equilibrium, regions close to the breakpoints have higher levels of variability and differentiation between arrangements than regions in the middle of the inverted segment. The implications of these findings for overall variability levels during the evolution of Drosophila species are discussed.

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