Genetic Chaos

Friday, April 23, 2004

Sequence variations in the public human genome data reflect a bottlenecked population history

Single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) constitute the great majority of variations in the human genome, and as heritable variable landmarks they are useful markers for disease mapping and resolving population structure. Redundant coverage in overlaps of large-insert genomic clones, sequenced as part of the Human Genome Project, comprises a quarter of the genome, and it is representative in terms of base compositional and functional sequence features. We mined these regions to produce 500,000 high-confidence SNP candidates as a uniform resource for describing nucleotide diversity and its regional variation within the genome. Distributions of marker density observed at different overlap length scales under a model of recombination and population size change show that the history of the population represented by the public genome sequence is one of collapse followed by a recent phase of mild size recovery. The inferred times of collapse and recovery are Upper Paleolithic, in agreement with archaeological evidence of the initial modern human colonization of Europe.

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