Effective population size and tests of neutrality at cytoplasmic genes in Arabidopsis

Genet Res (Camb). 2008 Feb;90(1):119-28. doi: 10.1017/S0016672307008920.


Cytoplasmic genomes typically lack recombination, implying that genetic hitch-hiking could be a predominant force structuring nucleotide polymorphism in the chloroplast and mitochondria. We test this hypothesis by analysing nucleotide polymorphism data at 28 loci across the chloroplast and mitochondria of the outcrossing plant Arabidopsis lyrata, and compare patterns with multiple nuclear loci, and the highly selfing Arabidopsis thaliana. The maximum likelihood estimate of the ratio of effective population size at cytoplasmic relative to nuclear genes in A. lyrata does not depart from the neutral expectation of 0.5. Similarly, the ratio of effective size in A. thaliana is close to unity, the neutral expectation for a highly selfing species. The results are thus consistent with neutral organelle polymorphism in these species or with comparable effects of hitch-hiking in both cytoplasmic and nuclear genes, in contrast to the results of recent studies on gynodioecious taxa. The four-gamete test and composite likelihood estimation provide evidence for very low levels of recombination in the organelles of A. lyrata, although permutation tests do not suggest that adjacent polymorphic sites are more closely linked than more distant sites across the two genomes, suggesting that mutation hotspots or very low rates of gene conversion could explain the data.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Chloroplasts / genetics
  • Cytoplasm / genetics*
  • Genes, Plant*
  • Mitochondria / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Population Density
  • Selection, Genetic*