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Genetics. 2004 Jul;167(3):1513-24.

Linkage disequilibrium as a signature of selective sweeps.

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  • 1Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The hitchhiking effect of a beneficial mutation, or a selective sweep, generates a unique distribution of allele frequencies and spatial distribution of polymorphic sites. A composite-likelihood test was previously designed to detect these signatures of a selective sweep, solely on the basis of the spatial distribution and marginal allele frequencies of polymorphisms. As an excess of linkage disequilibrium (LD) is also known to be a strong signature of a selective sweep, we investigate how much statistical power is increased by the inclusion of information regarding LD. The expected pattern of LD is predicted by a genealogical approach. Both theory and simulation suggest that strong LD is generated in narrow regions at both sides of the location of beneficial mutation. However, a lack of LD is expected across the two sides. We explore various ways to detect this signature of selective sweeps by statistical tests. A new composite-likelihood method is proposed to incorporate information regarding LD. This method enables us to detect selective sweeps and estimate the parameters of the selection model better than the previous composite-likelihood method that does not take LD into account. However, the improvement made by including LD is rather small, suggesting that most of the relevant information regarding selective sweeps is captured by the spatial distribution and marginal allele frequencies of polymorphisms.

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