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Genome Res. 2003 Apr;13(4):635-43. Epub 2003 Mar 12.

Novel multilocus measure of linkage disequilibrium to estimate past effective population size.

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Victorian Institute of Animal Science, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Attwood, Victoria, 3049, Australia.


Linkage disequilibrium (LD) between densely spaced, polymorphic genetic markers in humans and other species contains information about historical population size. Inferring past population size is of interest both from an evolutionary perspective (e.g., testing the "out of Africa" hypothesis of human evolution) and to improve models for mapping of disease and quantitative trait genes. We propose a novel multilocus measure of LD, the chromosome segment homozygosity (CSH). CSH is defined for a specific chromosome segment, up to the full length of the chromosome. In computer simulations CSH was generally less variable than the r(2) measure of LD, and variability of CSH decreased as the number of markers in the chromosome segment was increased. The essence and utility of our novel measure is that CSH over long distances reflects recent effective population size (N), whereas CSH over small distances reflects the effective size in the more distant past. We illustrate the utility of CSH by calculating CSH from human and dairy cattle SNP and microsatellite marker data, and predicting N at various times in the past for each species. Results indicated an exponentially increasing N in humans and a declining N in dairy cattle. CSH is a valuable statistic for inferring population histories from haplotype data, and has implications for mapping of disease loci.

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