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Mol Ecol. 2011 Nov;20(22):4722-36. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2011.05285.x. Epub 2011 Oct 18.

Higher differentiation among subspecies of the house mouse (Mus musculus) in genomic regions with low recombination.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA.


In the early stages of reproductive isolation, genomic regions of reduced recombination are expected to show greater levels of differentiation, either because gene flow between species is reduced in these regions or because the effects of selection at linked sites within species are enhanced in these regions. Here, we study the patterns of DNA sequence variation at 27 autosomal loci among populations of Mus musculus musculus, M. m. domesticus, and M. m. castaneus, three subspecies of house mice with collinear genomes. We found that some loci exhibit considerable shared variation among subspecies, while others exhibit fixed differences. We used an isolation-with-gene-flow model to estimate divergence times and effective population sizes (N(e) ) and to disentangle ancestral variation from gene flow. Estimates of divergence time indicate that all three subspecies diverged from one another within a very short period of time approximately 350,000 years ago. Overall, N(e) for each subspecies was associated with the degree of genetic differentiation: M. m. musculus had the smallest N(e) and the greatest proportion of monophyletic gene genealogies, while M. m. castaneus had the largest N(e) and the smallest proportion of monophyletic gene genealogies. M. m. domesticus and M. m. musculus were more differentiated from each other than either were from M. m. castaneus, consistent with greater reproductive isolation between M. m. domesticus and M. m. musculus. F(ST) was significantly greater at loci experiencing low recombination rates compared to loci experiencing high recombination rates in comparisons between M. m. castaneus and M. m. musculus or M. m. domesticus. These results provide evidence that genomic regions with less recombination show greater differentiation, even in the absence of chromosomal rearrangements.

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