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Heredity (Edinb). 2010 Jun;104(6):600-10. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2009.150. Epub 2009 Nov 4.

Extensive linkage disequilibrium in a wild bird population.

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Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.


Knowledge about the extent and patterns of linkage disequilibrium (LD) can provide important insights into demographic processes and strategies to identify the genetic basis of complex phenotypes in wild populations. However, data on the extent and patterns of LD from non-model vertebrate species from the wild are still scarce. We conducted so far the most extensive and detailed examination of LD in a pedigreed wild bird population using genotypes from 97 autosomal and 6 gonosomal microsatellites and a recently established linkage map of Siberian jays (Perisoreus infaustus). Analysis of syntenic marker pairs showed high levels of LD that extended over tens of centimorgans or several megabases and generally decayed as an increasing function of intermarker distance. In addition, significant LD was also very common between nonsyntenic markers. Patterns of LD varied across different linkage groups possibly because of the differences in chromosomal structure (macro-, micro-, and Z-chromosome). In particular, the level of LD was significantly lower on the Z-chromosome than on the autosomes at comparable genetic distances. In general, the high levels and extent of LD in this population are likely owing to its relatively small size, significant intrapopulation genetic structure, and occurrence of inbreeding. Whatever the cause, the long-range LD between syntenic loci suggests that LD mapping of phenotypic traits in this population using low-density markers maps is feasible. However, the frequent occurrence of LD between nonsyntenic markers suggests that the combined use of linkage and LD methods is needed to reduce the likelihood of false-positive associations between marker loci and traits of ecological and evolutionary interest.

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