Statistical tests for detecting gene conversion

Mol Biol Evol. 1989 Sep;6(5):526-38. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a040567.


Statistical tests for detecting gene conversion are described for a sample of homologous DNA sequences. The tests are based on imbalances in the distribution of segments on which some pair of sequences agrees. The methods automatically control for variable mutation rates along the genome and do not depend on a priori choices of potentially monophyletic subsets of the sample. The tests show strong evidence for multiple intragenic conversion events at two loci in Escherichia coli. The gnd locus in E. coli shows a highly significant excess of maximal segments of length 70-200 bp, which suggests conversion events of that size. The data also indicate that the rate of these short conversion events might be of the order of neutral mutation rate. There is also evidence for correlated mutation in adjacent codon positions. The same tests applied to a locus in an RNA virus were negative.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Gene Conversion*
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Genes, Viral
  • Genetic Techniques*
  • Influenza A virus / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Statistics as Topic / methods*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA