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Genetics. 2005 Nov;171(3):1247-56. Epub 2005 Sep 12.

Equilibrium processes cannot explain high levels of short- and medium-range linkage disequilibrium in the domesticated grass Sorghum bicolor.

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Institute for Genomic Diversity, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Patterns of linkage disequilibrium (LD) are of interest because they provide evidence of both equilibrium (e.g., mating system or long-term population structure) and nonequilibrium (e.g., demographic or selective) processes, as well as because of their importance in strategies for identifying the genetic basis of complex phenotypes. We report patterns of short and medium range (up to 100 kb) LD in six unlinked genomic regions in the partially selfing domesticated grass, Sorghum bicolor. The extent of allelic associations in S. bicolor, as assessed by pairwise measures of LD, is higher than in maize but lower than in Arabidopsis, in qualitative agreement with expectations based on mating system. Quantitative analyses of the population recombination parameter, rho, however, based on empirical estimates of rates of recombination, mutation, and self-pollination, show that LD is more extensive than expected under a neutral equilibrium model. The disparity between rho and the population mutation parameter, , is similar to that observed in other species whose population history appears to be complex. From a practical standpoint, these results suggest that S. bicolor is well suited for association studies using reasonable numbers of markers, since LD typically extends at least several kilobases but has largely decayed by 15 kb.

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