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Genetics. 2003 Jul;164(3):1055-70.

Locus-specific genetic differentiation at Rw among warfarin-resistant rat (Rattus norvegicus) populations.

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  • 1Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution (OBEE), University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1606, USA.


Populations may diverge at fitness-related genes as a result of adaptation to local conditions. The ability to detect this divergence by marker-based genomic scans depends on the relative magnitudes of selection, recombination, and migration. We survey rat (Rattus norvegicus) populations to assess the effect that local selection with anticoagulant rodenticides has had on microsatellite marker variation and differentiation at the warfarin resistance gene (Rw) relative to the effect on the genomic background. Initially, using a small sample of 16 rats, we demonstrate tight linkage of microsatellite D1Rat219 to Rw by association mapping of genotypes expressing an anticoagulant-rodenticide-insensitive vitamin K 2,3-epoxide reductase (VKOR). Then, using allele frequencies at D1Rat219, we show that predicted and observed resistance levels in 27 populations correspond, suggesting intense and recent selection for resistance. A contrast of F(ST) values between D1Rat219 and the genomic background revealed that rodenticide selection has overwhelmed drift-mediated population structure only at Rw. A case-controlled design distinguished these locus-specific effects of selection at Rw from background levels of differentiation more effectively than a population-controlled approach. Our results support the notion that an analysis of locus-specific population genetic structure may assist the discovery and mapping of novel candidate loci that are the object of selection or may provide supporting evidence for previously identified loci.

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