The distribution of surviving blocks of an ancestral genome

Theor Popul Biol. 2003 Dec;64(4):451-71. doi: 10.1016/s0040-5809(03)00098-4.


What is the chance that some part of a stretch of genome will survive? In a population of constant size, and with no selection, the probability of survival of some part of a stretch of map length y < 1 approaches y/log(yt/2) for log(yt) > or = 1. Thus, the whole genome is certain to be lost, but the rate of loss is extremely slow. This solution extends to give the whole distribution of surviving block sizes as a function of time. We show that the expected number of blocks at time t is 1+yt and give expressions for the moments of the number of blocks and the total amount of genome that survives for a given time. The solution is based on a branching process and assumes complete interference between crossovers, so that each descendant carries only a single block of ancestral material. We consider cases where most individuals carry multiple blocks, either because there are multiple crossovers in a long genetic map, or because enough time has passed that most individuals in the population are related to each other. For species such as ours, which have a long genetic map, the genome of any individual which leaves descendants (approximately 80% of the population for a Poisson offspring number with mean two) is likely to persist for an extremely long time, in the form of a few short blocks of genome.

MeSH terms

  • Genome*
  • Humans
  • Pedigree
  • Probability
  • Survival Analysis