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Genome Res. 2011 Jan;21(1):114-25. doi: 10.1101/gr.111252.110. Epub 2010 Oct 26.

Extensive recombination rate variation in the house mouse species complex inferred from genetic linkage maps.

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  • 1Laboratory of Genetics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


The rate of recombination is a key genomic parameter that displays considerable variation among taxa. Species comparisons have demonstrated that the rate of evolution in recombination rate is strongly dependent on the physical scale of measurement. Individual recombination hotspots are poorly conserved among closely related taxa, whereas genomic-scale recombination rate variation bears a strong signature of phylogenetic history. In contrast, the mode and tempo of evolution in recombination rates measured on intermediate physical scales is poorly understood. Here, we conduct a detailed statistical comparison between two whole-genome F₂ genetic linkage maps constructed from experimental intercrosses between closely related house mouse subspecies (Mus musculus). Our two maps profile a common wild-derived inbred strain of M. m. domesticus crossed to distinct wild-derived inbred strains representative of two other house mouse subspecies, M. m. castaneus and M. m. musculus. We identify numerous orthologous genomic regions with significant map length differences between these two crosses. Because the genomes of these recently diverged house mice are highly collinear, observed differences in map length (centimorgans) are suggestive of variation in broadscale recombination rate (centimorgans per megabase) within M. musculus. Collectively, these divergent intervals span 19% of the house mouse genome, disproportionately aggregating on the X chromosome. In addition, we uncover strong statistical evidence for a large effect, sex-linked, site-specific modifier of recombination rate segregating within M. musculus. Our findings reveal considerable variation in the megabase-scale recombination landscape among recently diverged taxa and underscore the continued importance of genetic linkage maps in the post-genome era.

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