Estimating meiotic gene conversion rates from population genetic data.
Gay J., Myers S., McVean G.
Gene conversion plays an important part in shaping genetic diversity in populations, yet estimating the rate at which it occurs is difficult because of the short lengths of DNA involved. We have developed a new statistical approach to estimating gene conversion rates from genetic variation, by extending an existing model for haplotype data in the presence of crossover events. We show, by simulation, that when the rate of gene conversion events is at least comparable to the rate of crossover events, the method provides a powerful approach to the detection of gene conversion and estimation of its rate. Application of the method to data from the telomeric X chromosome of Drosophila melanogaster, in which crossover activity is suppressed, indicates that gene conversion occurs approximately 400 times more often than crossover events. We also extend the method to estimating variable crossover and gene conversion rates and estimate the rate of gene conversion to be approximately 1.5 times higher than the crossover rate in a region of human chromosome 1 with known recombination hotspots.