Accurately inferring the genome-wide landscape of recombination rates in natural populations is a central aim in genomics, as patterns of linkage influence everything from genetic mapping to understanding evolutionary history. Here, we describe recombination landscape estimation using recurrent neural networks (ReLERNN), a deep learning method for estimating a genome-wide recombination map that is accurate even with small numbers of pooled or individually sequenced genomes. Rather than use summaries of linkage disequilibrium as its input, ReLERNN takes columns from a genotype alignment, which are then modeled as a sequence across the genome using a recurrent neural network. We demonstrate that ReLERNN improves accuracy and reduces bias relative to existing methods and maintains high accuracy in the face of demographic model misspecification, missing genotype calls, and genome inaccessibility. We apply ReLERNN to natural populations of African Drosophila melanogaster and show that genome-wide recombination landscapes, although largely correlated among populations, exhibit important population-specific differences. Lastly, we connect the inferred patterns of recombination with the frequencies of major inversions segregating in natural Drosophila populations.
Keywords: deep learning; machine learning; population genomics; recombination.
© The Author(s) 2020. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution.