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Genetics. Aug 2001; 158(4): 1811–1823.
PMCID: PMC1461744

Interpretation of variation across marker loci as evidence of selection.


Population structure and history have similar effects on the genetic diversity at all neutral loci. However, some marker loci may also have been strongly influenced by natural selection. Selection shapes genetic diversity in a locus-specific manner. If we could identify those loci that have responded to selection during the divergence of populations, then we may obtain better estimates of the parameters of population history by excluding these loci. Previous attempts were made to identify outlier loci from the distribution of sample statistics under neutral models of population structure and history. Unfortunately these methods depend on assumptions about population structure and history that usually cannot be verified. In this article, we define new population-specific parameters of population divergence and construct sample statistics that are estimators of these parameters. We then use the joint distribution of these estimators to identify outlier loci that may be subject to selection. We found that outlier loci are easier to recognize when this joint distribution is conditioned on the total number of allelic states represented in the pooled sample at each locus. This is so because the conditional distribution is less sensitive to the values of nuisance parameters.

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Selected References

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