Linkage disequilibrium patterns across a recombination gradient in African Drosophila melanogaster.

Publication Year


Journal Article

Previous multilocus surveys of nucleotide polymorphism have documented a genome-wide excess of intralocus linkage disequilibrium (LD) in Drosophila melanogaster and D. simulans relative to expectations based on estimated mutation and recombination rates and observed levels of diversity. These studies examined patterns of variation from predominantly non-African populations that are thought to have recently expanded their ranges from central Africa. Here, we analyze polymorphism data from a Zimbabwean population of D. melanogaster, which is likely to be closer to the standard population model assumptions of a large population with constant size. Unlike previous studies, we find that levels of LD are roughly compatible with expectations based on estimated rates of crossing over. Further, a detailed examination of genes in different recombination environments suggests that markers near the telomere of the X chromosome show considerably less linkage disequilibrium than predicted by rates of crossing over, suggesting appreciable levels of exchange due to gene conversion. Assuming that these populations are near mutation-drift equilibrium, our results are most consistent with a model that posits heterogeneity in levels of exchange due to gene conversion across the X chromosome, with gene conversion being a minor determinant of LD levels in regions of high crossing over. Alternatively, if levels of exchange due to gene conversion are not negligible in regions of high crossing over, our results suggest a marked departure from mutation-drift equilibrium (i.e., toward an excess of LD) in this Zimbabwean population. Our results also have implications for the dynamics of weakly selected mutations in regions of reduced crossing over.

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Alternate Journal