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Genetics. 2003 Jan;163(1):395-404.

Estimating ancestral population sizes and divergence times.

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  • Department of Human Genetics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60637, USA. jwall@genetics.bsd.uchicago.edu


This article presents a new method for jointly estimating species divergence times and ancestral population sizes. The method improves on previous ones by explicitly incorporating intragenic recombination, by utilizing orthologous sequence data from closely related species, and by using a maximum-likelihood framework. The latter allows for efficient use of the available information and provides a way of assessing how much confidence we should place in the estimates. I apply the method to recently collected intergenic sequence data from humans and the great apes. The results suggest that the human-chimpanzee ancestral population size was four to seven times larger than the current human effective population size and that the current human effective population size is slightly >10,000. These estimates are similar to previous ones, and they appear relatively insensitive to assumptions about the recombination rates or mutation rates across loci.

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