An approximate bayesian estimator suggests strong, recurrent selective sweeps in drosophila

Jeffrey D. Jensen, Kevin R. Thornton, Peter Andolfatto

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81 Scopus citations


The recurrent fixation of newly arising, beneficial mutations in a species reduces levels of linked neutral variability. Models positing frequent weakly beneficial substitutions or, alternatively, rare, strongly selected substitutions predict similar average effects on linked neutral variability, if the product of the rate and strength of selection is held constant. We propose an approximate Bayesian (ABC) polymorphism-based estimator that can be used to distinguish between these models, and apply it to multi-locus data from Drosophila melanogaster. We investigate the extent to which inference about the strength of selection is sensitive to assumptions about the underlying distributions of the rates of substitution and recombination, the strength of selection, heterogeneity in mutation rate, as well as the population's demographic history. We show that assuming fixed values of selection parameters in estimation leads to overestimates of the strength of selection and underestimates of the rate. We estimate parameters for an African population of D. melanogaster (ŝ∼2E-03, 2Nλ∼2E-04) and compare these to previous estimates. Finally, we show that surveying larger genomic regions is expected to lend much more discriminatory power to the approach. It will thus be of great interest to apply this method to emerging wholegenome polymorphism data sets in many taxa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1000198
JournalPLoS genetics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Genetics
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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