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Genetics. 2004 Sep;168(1):563-8.

On the distribution of temporal variations in allele frequency: consequences for the estimation of effective population size and the detection of loci undergoing selection.

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UMR de Génétique Végétale, INRA UPS INA-PG CNRS, Ferme du Moulon, 91190 Gif sur Yvette, France.


The effective population size (Ne) is frequently estimated using temporal changes in allele frequencies at neutral markers. Such temporal changes in allele frequencies are usually estimated from the standardized variance in allele frequencies (Fc). We simulate Wright-Fisher populations to generate expected distributions of Fc and of Fc (Fc averaged over several loci). We explore the adjustment of these simulated Fc distributions to a chi-square distribution and evaluate the resulting precision on the estimation of Ne for various scenarios. Next, we outline a procedure to test for the homogeneity of the individual Fc across loci and identify markers exhibiting extreme Fc-values compared to the rest of the genome. Such loci are likely to be in genomic areas undergoing selection, driving Fc to values greater (or smaller) than expected under drift alone. Our procedure assigns a P-value to each locus under the null hypothesis (drift is homogeneous throughout the genome) and simultaneously controls the rate of false positive among loci declared as departing significantly from the null. The procedure is illustrated using two published data sets: (i) an experimental wheat population subject to natural selection and (ii) a maize population undergoing recurrent selection.

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