Linkage disequilibrium decay and past population history in the human genome

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46603. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046603. Epub 2012 Oct 2.


The fluctuation of population size has not been well studied in the previous studies of theoretical linkage disequilibrium (LD) expectation. In this study, an improved theoretical prediction of LD decay was derived to account for the effects of changes in effective population sizes. The equation was used to estimate effective population size (N(e)) assuming a constant N(e) and LD at equilibrium, and these N(e) estimates implied the past changes of N(e) for a certain number of generations until equilibrium, which differed based on recombination rate. As the influence of recent population history on the N(e) estimates is larger than old population history, recent changes in population size can be inferred more accurately than old changes. The theoretical predictions based on this improved expression showed accurate agreement with the simulated values. When applied to human genome data, the detailed recent history of human populations was obtained. The inferred past population history of each population showed good correspondence with historical studies. Specifically, four populations (three African ancestries and one Mexican ancestry) showed population growth that was significantly less than that of other populations, and two populations originated from China showed prominent exponential growth. During the examination of overall LD decay in the human genome, a selection pressure on chromosome 14, the gephyrin gene, was observed in all populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Genome, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Linkage Disequilibrium / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Population Density

Grant support

This work was supported by the Korea Research Foundation Grant funded by the Korean Government (MOEHRD) (KRF-2007-532-C00017) and by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2009-353-C00061). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.