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Genetics. 2003 Aug;164(4):1667-76.

Estimating the time since the fixation of a beneficial allele.

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Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Deutscher Platz 6, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


The fixation of a beneficial allele in a population leaves a well-characterized signature in patterns of nucleotide variation at linked sites. This signature can be used to estimate the time since fixation from patterns of polymorphism in extant individuals. I introduce a method to assess the support in polymorphism data for a recent episode of directional positive selection and to estimate the time since fixation. I summarize the polymorphism data by three statistics that carry information about levels of diversity, the allele frequency spectrum, and the extent of allelic associations. Simulations are then used to obtain a sample from the posterior distribution of the time since fixation, conditional on the observed summaries. I test the performance of the approach on simulated data and apply it to the gene tb1 in maize. The data support the recent fixation of a favored allele, consistent with what is known about the importance of tb1 in the domestication process of maize.

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