Identifying the environmental factors that determine the genetic structure of populations.

  • Foll M
  • Gaggiotti O
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The study of population genetic structure is a fundamental problem in population biology because it helps us obtain a deeper understanding of the evolutionary process. One of the issues most assiduously studied in this context is the assessment of the relative importance of environmental factors (geographic distance, language, temperature, altitude, etc.) on the genetic structure of populations. The most widely used method to address this question is the multivariate Mantel test, a nonparametric method that calculates a correlation coefficient between a dependent matrix of pairwise population genetic distances and one or more independent matrices of environmental differences. Here we present a hierarchical Bayesian method that estimates F(ST) values for each local population and relates them to environmental factors using a generalized linear model. The method is demonstrated by applying it to two data sets, a data set for a population of the argan tree and a human data set comprising 51 populations distributed worldwide. We also carry out a simulation study to investigate the performance of the method and find that it can correctly identify the factors that play a role in the structuring of genetic diversity under a wide range of scenarios.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Africa, Eastern
  • Computer Simulation
  • Environment
  • Genetics, Population
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic
  • Probability

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  • M. Foll

  • O.E. Gaggiotti

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