Investigating population history using temporal genetic differentiation

Mol Biol Evol. 2014 Sep;31(9):2516-27. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msu192. Epub 2014 Jun 17.


The rapid advance of sequencing technology, coupled with improvements in molecular methods for obtaining genetic data from ancient sources, holds the promise of producing a wealth of genomic data from time-separated individuals. However, the population-genetic properties of time-structured samples have not been extensively explored. Here, we consider the implications of temporal sampling for analyses of genetic differentiation and use a temporal coalescent framework to show that complex historical events such as size reductions, population replacements, and transient genetic barriers between populations leave a footprint of genetic differentiation that can be traced through history using temporal samples. Our results emphasize explicit consideration of the temporal structure when making inferences and indicate that genomic data from ancient individuals will greatly increase our ability to reconstruct population history.

Keywords: FST; ancient DNA; genetic differentiation; population structure; time-serial sampling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Genetic Drift
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Phylogeny*
  • Population Dynamics
  • Sampling Studies