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Genome-wide distribution of linkage disequilibrium in the population of Palau and its implications for gene flow in Remote Oceania

Abstract.

Linkage disequilibrium (LD) between alleles on the same human chromosome results from various evolutionary processes and is thus telling about the history of populations. Recently, LD has garnered substantial interest for its value to map and fine-map disease genes. We examine the distribution of LD between short tandem repeat alleles on autosomes and sex chromosomes in the Remote Oceanic population of Palau to evaluate whether the data are consistent with a recent hypothesis about the origins of genetic variation in Palau, specifically that the population experienced extensive male-biased gene flow following initial settlement. Consistent with evolutionary theory based on effective population size, LD between X-linked alleles is stochastically greater than LD between autosomal alleles, however, small but detectable LD occurs for autosomal markers separated by substantial distances. By contrast, while Y-linked alleles experience only one-third the effective population size of X-linked alleles, their mean value for pairwise LD is only slightly larger than X-linked alleles. For a small population known to experience at least two extreme bottlenecks, 56 six-locus Y haplotypes exhibit remarkable diversity (0.96), comparable to Y diversity of Europeans, however, autosomal and X-linked markers display significantly less diversity, as measured by heterozygosity (4.1% less). Palauan Y haplotypes also fall into distinct clusters, again unlike that of Europe. We argue these data are consistent with waves of male-biased gene flow.

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Devlin, B., Roeder, K., Otto, C. et al. Genome-wide distribution of linkage disequilibrium in the population of Palau and its implications for gene flow in Remote Oceania. Hum Genet 108, 521–528 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004390100511

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Keywords

  • Effective Population Size
  • Short Tandem Repeat Locus
  • Before Present
  • Recombination Probability
  • Diastrophic Dysplasia