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    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    O'Fallon, B. D. 2011. A Method for Accurate Inference of Population Size from Serially Sampled Genealogies Distorted by Selection. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol. 28, Issue. 11, p. 3171.

    O'Fallon, B. D. Seger, J. and Adler, F. R. 2010. A Continuous-State Coalescent and the Impact of Weak Selection on the Structure of Gene Genealogies. Molecular Biology and Evolution, Vol. 27, Issue. 5, p. 1162.

    RYO TAKAHASI, K. 2009. Coalescent under the evolution of coadaptation. Molecular Ecology, Vol. 18, Issue. 24, p. 5018.

    Etheridge, Alison 2006. Mathematical statistical physics, École d'ÉtÉ de physique des houches session LXXXIII.

    Uyenoyama, Marcy K. and Takebayashi, Naoki 2004. A simple method for computing exact probabilities of mutation numbers. Theoretical Population Biology, Vol. 65, Issue. 3, p. 271.

    Uyenoyama, Marcy K. 2004. Evolution under tight linkage to mating type. New Phytologist, Vol. 165, Issue. 1, p. 63.

    Charlesworth, Brian Charlesworth, Deborah and Barton, Nicholas H. 2003. The Effects of Genetic and Geographic Structure on Neutral Variation. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics, Vol. 34, Issue. 1, p. 99.

    Schlötterer, Christian 2003. Hitchhiking mapping – functional genomics from the population genetics perspective. Trends in Genetics, Vol. 19, Issue. 1, p. 32.


Extending the coalescent to multilocus systems: the case of balancing selection

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2002

Natural populations are structured spatially into local populations and genetically into diverse ‘genetic backgrounds’ defined by different combinations of selected alleles. If selection maintains genetic backgrounds at constant frequency then neutral diversity is enhanced. By contrast, if background frequencies fluctuate then diversity is reduced. Provided that the population size of each background is large enough, these effects can be described by the structured coalescent process. Almost all the extant results based on the coalescent deal with a single selected locus. Yet we know that very large numbers of genes are under selection and that any substantial effects are likely to be due to the cumulative effects of many loci. Here, we set up a general framework for the extension of the coalescent to multilocus scenarios and we use it to study the simplest model, where strong balancing selection acting on a set of n loci maintains 2n backgrounds at constant frequencies and at linkage equilibrium. Analytical results show that the expected linked neutral diversity increases exponentially with the number of selected loci and can become extremely large. However, simulation results reveal that the structured coalescent approach breaks down when the number of backgrounds approaches the population size, because of stochastic fluctuations in background frequencies. A new method is needed to extend the structured coalescent to cases with large numbers of backgrounds.

Corresponding author
Corresponding author. Institute of Cell, Animal and Population Biology, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK. Tel: +44 (0) 131 650 5513. Fax: +44 (0) 131 650 6564. e-mail:
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Genetics Research
  • ISSN: 0016-6723
  • EISSN: 1469-5073
  • URL: /core/journals/genetics-research
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