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Genetics. 2006 Jul;173(3):1705-23. Epub 2006 Apr 19.

Estimating the contribution of mutation, recombination and gene conversion in the generation of haplotypic diversity.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, California 92697, USA.


Recombination occurs through both homologous crossing over and homologous gene conversion during meiosis. The contribution of recombination relative to mutation is expected to be dramatically reduced in inbreeding organisms. We report coalescent-based estimates of the recombination parameter (rho) relative to estimates of the mutation parameter (theta) for 18 genes from the highly self-fertilizing grass, wild barley, Hordeum vulgare ssp. spontaneum. Estimates of rho/theta are much greater than expected, with a mean rho/theta approximately 1.5, similar to estimates from outcrossing species. We also estimate rho with and without the contribution of gene conversion. Genotyping errors can mimic the effect of gene conversion, upwardly biasing estimates of the role of conversion. Thus we report a novel method for identifying genotyping errors in nucleotide sequence data sets. We show that there is evidence for gene conversion in many large nucleotide sequence data sets including our data that have been purged of all detectable sequencing errors and in data sets from Drosophila melanogaster, D. simulans, and Zea mays. In total, 13 of 27 loci show evidence of gene conversion. For these loci, gene conversion is estimated to contribute an average of twice as much as crossing over to total recombination.

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