The International Haplotype Map ("HapMap") Project is motivated, in part, by the belief that the organization of the human genome, the mechanics of recombination, and the population-level behavior of alleles at adjacent loci should allow researchers to parse the genome into small segments, or "blocks," that show strong linkage disequilibrium (LD) between alleles at loci within those segments. The discovery and evidence for these blocks is to be based solely on the observed LD strength and patterns between alleles at adjacent loci throughout the genome. Although there are many factors that contribute to LD strength, we assessed the correlation between block structure, in terms of length and percentage of the genome assembled into blocks within a region, and recombination rate obtained from two independent sources. We found evidence of a striking negative correlation between the average recombination rate and average block length, suggesting that recombination rate is a strong contributor to haplotype block structure within the genome. We discuss the potential implications of this negative correlation in the context of the organization, properties, and potential ubiquity of a block-like structure in the human genome.
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