Wednesday, January 16, 2008
A beneficial mutation that has nearly but not yet fixed in a population produces a characteristic haplotype configuration, called a partial selective sweep. Whether nonadaptive processes might generate similar haplotype configurations has not been extensively explored. In a paper by Macpherson, J.M., Gonzalez, J., Witten, D., Davis, J.C., Rosenberg, N., Hirsh, A.E., and D. A. Petrov that was just published by Molecular Biology and Evolution, we demonstrate that a number of non-adaptive processes can indeed lead to haplotype configurations that resemble partial selective sweeps. We show that recent bottlenecks are particularly powerful in this regard. This work emphasizes the importance of knowing demographic history in interpreting population genetic data.